Richard Johnson of Billings Lawn Equipment in Royal Oak, MI, would say that it is. “We’re getting a pretty good mix of both men and women who are purchasing our Worx-branded product,” he relates. “Age is around 40 and up. We’ve done really well with the line trimmer/edger. We brought in 15 pieces and sold out in three days.” Billings Lawn Equipment also sells Shindaiwa, Scag and Ferris product, among others.
Over in Ann Arbor, MI, Judy Luckhardt of Countryside Lawn & Garden Equipment has catered to a bit “greener” crowd. “It’s the younger generation that’s 20-35 years of age,” she says. “They don’t want to deal with gas and oil. And they don’t want to pollute. Green is cutting edge, and we want to be on the cutting edge side rather than playing catch-up—we want to be proactive.” Countryside Lawn & Garden also sells Echo, Scag, Gravely, Walker and Cub Cadet Commercial product, among others.
Aside from environmental impact, ergonomics is another big issue. “The clear weight advantage of an electric unit, coupled with improved performance, make electric-powered products a distinct target for a customer base that understands and values a product’s power-to-weight ratio as well as overall ease of use,” Everett points out.
Ferris says that while only 10% of electric-powered lawn and garden equipment is sold into the dealer channel, he sees no reason why dealers should relinquish this market opportunity to the box stores.
“There are two reasons why dealers are adding our product to their showrooms,” Ferris says. “They want to offer a green line, and they want to increase profitability without taking sales from products they’re already selling. And our products are quite unique and profitable. Since it’s not gas-powered, there’s basically no setup. You just need to display it.”
And even though electric equipment is not gas-powered, which provides everyday consumers with ample opportunity to ruin engines through improper gas/oil mixtures, there is still aftermarket business to be had by dealers. “There is always opportunities to sell trimmer line, cutting heads, bars and chains,” Everett reminds. “With battery products there is also the opportunity to sell backup battery packs as well as battery chargers.”
Ferris says a third of consumers who purchase a Worx-branded product also buy an extra battery. Even though they don’t have oil and filters to change, users do have to take care of the battery—which is where a knowledgeable dealer comes in.
“You want to educate consumers about what they need to do to condition the product for everyday use,” Ferris says. “There’s a break-in procedure consumers need to be aware of. The first few uses should be fully discharged, then fully recharged. Users won’t reach the full performance potential until three or four charge cycles. Then, battery storage procedures are very important.”
Beyond making sure that all these necessary conditioning and storage procedures are followed, product performance is going to depend on the manufacturer, as is the case with any technology. “There are cheap, gas-powered brands on the market, too,” Meriam reminds. “Manufacturers who want to compete in the electric arena will have to produce products that satisfy the consumers’ demand for quality, dependability, durability and performance—regardless of the power source.”