Knock on Wood

For the wood-handling market, 2010 was an acceptable year. Pent-up demand could cause an increase in sales for many in 2011. Manufacturers of wood chippers and stump cutters are expecting a strong sales year backed by influential, carefully timed marketing.

Market performance

Recent years have been tough for dealers and manufacturers alike, and smart inventory management has become essential.

“There was a lot of instability within the market in 2010,” says Todd Roorda, Vermeer tree care sales manager. “We carefully managed our inventory and dealers did the same, supplying equipment to those in need as best we could at that time.”

While 2011 will continue to be a year of smart inventory planning, there is expectation that it will be a stronger sales year. Already, manufacturers are citing sales numbers up from last year.

“2011 seems like a complete turnaround, but still with a level of uncertainty in the air. This year has already proven to be a better one,” shares Roorda. “We are working hard to capture deals and expose Vermeer product when and where possible.”

Some manufacturers have seen an increase each year in certain product categories. “Overall as a company we are experiencing year-over-year increases in the wood-handling market,” says Dale Winkelman, Echo Bear Cat director of sales and marketing.

Marketing wood-handling products

Hitting customers with effective marketing campaigns can mean the difference between a cautious consumer and an engaged purchaser. Timing it right furthers the success of marketing efforts.

“The best time to push marketing is from March to November,” explains Winkelman. “Typically when the weather warms up, yard cleanup is taking place. There is additional maintenance throughout the summer and preparation for winter in the fall.”

Seasons vary by region and so do equipment needs. Knowing what your market requires is indispensable.

“In the South, the weather does not change as much as it does in the northern states. The market does not peak and valley quite as much and people are able to work mostly year-round,” explains Roorda. “In the northern states, spring cleanup is really a good time to push sales as homeowners will get back out to do work in the yard. In the summer, people all over who thought they would get another season out of their equipment might come to find out they need new equipment, causing a sales surge.”

Your wood-handling customers

Chippers and stump cutters are large products, not necessarily needed or attainable for all customer segments. The typical customers for the wood-handling market are the do-it-yourself large property owners, contractors and municipalities.

“There are not a lot of homeowners that would purchase the equipment, as they would more often rent or contract it out to someone in that line of business,” says Roorda. “However, someone who has a large piece of land may want to do some upkeep on their own.”

A wide range of products and capabilities means there are many options available to meet the end-user’s needs.

“Echo Bear Cat’s diverse selection of products match a range of applications,” says Winkelman. “Larger property owners enjoy using our 2” to 3” chipper/shredders while tractor owners prefer our complete PTO line of chippers and chipper/shredders. A variety of engine-powered chippers and chipper/shredders ranging from 4”to 9” in size are a great fit for tree service companies, buildings and grounds maintenance, commercial landscapers and municipalities.”

A hot issue for all customer segments is the change in emissions standards. Dealer and customer concern is being met by the confidence of educated manufacturers.

“Customers are asking a lot of questions about emissions and we are trying to address their needs in a fashion where we all succeed,” says Roorda. “There will be a product price increase and that is bringing a lot of questions. We are working really hard to educate ourselves and make the right plans for where the market is going. We have our hand on the pulse of the market and are trying to move forward.”