The sprayer and spreader market held strong last year with homeowners and commercial users alike looking for versatile products manufactured for high durability. Electric-powered, high-capacity units are coming to the market forefront.
Many sprayer and spreader manufacturers reported strong sales numbers in 2010 and are expecting the same for 2011.
“2011 is looking to be an excellent year for us, with expectations of 25-30% sales growth,” says Bruce Carmichael, national sales manager for TurfEx. “We have seen the confidence of the distributors, dealers and end-users all coming back up. While working a number of international and domestic shows, including the golf show, we are pleased with the feedback and enthusiasm generated at these events.”
At Earthway Products Inc., they reported over-forecast sales for 2010 and are expecting a record year for 2011 as well, with sales in their winter-use models up significantly.
Improved Technology Meets Enhanced Durability
One of the things both commercial and consumer customers are looking for in sprayers and spreaders is new technology that improves the ease in performing a job and the overall quality of the finished product.
“More and more users are seeking products that fit existing equipment,” says Carmichael. “Most of the TurfEx sprayers and spreaders are designed to adapt to the users’ existing products. An example is the TurfEx 2.0 cubic-foot electric spreader. This model is designed to easily attach to most models of zero-turn mowers. It allows the end-user to maximize a piece of equipment already in their fleet, and it’s much more efficient and effective than using a standard walk-behind spreader.”
Operators are looking for products that are flexible, low-maintenance and high-performance. Optimal performance from a spreader means casting materials evenly over a large area.
“We engineer our spreaders with specific gearbox ratios based on the particular wheel size. Both are very important points in having a spreader with an even spread pattern. A number of spreader manufacturers don’t consider the wheel size-to-gearbox ratios when they offer a spreader,” explains Jeff Kendall, vice president of sales and marketing for Earthway Products Inc. “If the wheel is large and the gearbox is small, the impeller that spins the disk that spreads material will turn slowly and will offer poor results from a narrow spread width to a skewed spread to the left or right.”
The improved construction of these products means they are durable and long-lasting on top of versatile, something customers are looking for in all of their products.
“Materials are only part of what increases durability. Engineering durability into the product at the start is the best way to make a product durable,” explains Kendall. “No one wants a spreader or sprayer that weighs so much that it’s a handful to operate. It would be durable, but not very useful.”
Materials like mild steel with epoxy powder coat chassis, which are used by Earthway, offer a long life at a good price.
The Homeowner Market’s Desires
Homeowners that utilize sprayers and spreaders are looking for versatile products that offer professional-grade features but are still affordable and easy to use.
“Flexibility in terms of what the spreader can spread and what equipment they can work with goes a long way in the mind of the end-user,” says Carmichael. “The TurfEx TS200 has a 150-pound capacity and the TS300EG has a 3 cubic-foot capacity. Both are popular because they fit a wide variety of machines. The TS200 can attach to nearly any brand of zero-turn mower, whereas the TS300EG offers a standard 2-inch receiver hitch mount.”
TurfEx has recently implemented technology that allows certain spreaders to spread seed, fertilizer or bulk product. Going beyond the materials a sprayer and spreader can handle, the homeowner just wants to know they can handle operating the equipment. They want to see professional-grade features they can use with the knowledge of a novice.