This issue of Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) features our annual Equipment Trends coverage. Each year, we ask major equipment manufacturers to share their insights into the biggest industry trends; factors impacting equipment design and sales; and outlook for the near future.
In 2011, I began the Equipment Trends coverage in our Landscape and Irrigation magazine (now Landscape Business), and after a few years, we decided to carry the format and concept over to OPE. Through the years, the format and questions have remained fairly similar, but I thought it would be interesting to see how the responses – and the industry – have changed.
Without giving too much about this year’s trends away, I will say that, based on the bulk of this year’s responses, battery-powered equipment and battery technology are at the forefront of industry trends right now (the word “battery” was mentioned 40 times total by this year’s respondents). “Online sales of equipment” is also a trend at the forefront of this year’s responses. Robotics and other advancements in technology are also popular talking points.
By comparison, in 2011, our Equipment Trends coverage found the key “trends” at the time were items such as the recovering economy; high unemployment, rising gas prices; uncertainty in the industry; and the need for equipment that is more versatile, easier to maintain and more fuel efficient.
Not surprisingly, in 2011, none of our respondents were talking about battery-powered equipment. However, in 2012, while most of our respondents said the key equipment trends that year were engine emissions, fuel efficiency and EFI technology, Lincoln Jore of CORE Outdoor Power said, “I believe that energy technology continues to improve in all related markets. So the natural progression for the professional OPE market will tend to follow the technology curve, which means you will see more and more professionals using less gas-powered equipment and more alternatively powered equipment.” (Note: MTD, parent company of Cub Cadet, acquired CORE Outdoor Power in late 2014.)
There were not many other mentions of battery-powered equipment by our Equipment Trends respondents until 2015 when some mentioned that they more landscapers were looking for cordless handheld products.
But as recently as 2016, it was interesting to see that “trends” impacting the industry were items mostly tied to end-user demand for equipment versatility (such as the desire to have a range attachments).
The nice thing about looking back through eight years’ worth of Equipment Trends coverage was seeing the slow and steady improvement of equipment sales and the market overall, and, as a result, the progressively more positive outlook among our respondents.
The least surprising thing of note, however, is that weather is an ever-present factor with regard to equipment sales. In every year of our Equipment Trends coverage, respondents have mentioned “the weather” as a key factor impacting the industry.
I hope you enjoy our Equipment Trends 2018 coverage. Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback regarding the equipment trends that are most impacting your business. And may the weather – and other influencing factors – be in your favor.