Schiller Grounds Care has recently introduced the BOB-CAT ProCat SE zero-turn mower for 2012. It is designed especially for larger landscape companies that are running several crews—and are looking for a more economical machine that doesn't sacrifice productivity.
According to Tony Weber, BOB-CAT product manager at Schiller Grounds Care (SGC), fleet owners are primarily interested in a mower that's going to keep their crews out mowing—period. They aren't looking for a lot of bells and whistles. These contractors simply want durable machines that are easy to maintain and service.
A key BOB-CAT distributor agrees. “The new ProCat SE series for 2012 is an effort on the part of SGC to offer a fleet-friendly version of the popular redesigned ProCat series that was released in 2011,” says David Dollard, director of sales for New Jersey-based KPM Exceptional LLC. “Large fleet owners care about the operational features of a mower, but do not respond to higher-end options that do not translate into production ... I think this machine will really take off once our dealers have seen them.”
Thus, several of the extended features commonly found on other BOB-CAT mowers have been omitted in order to make the ProCat SE more affordable. For example, the SE features a slightly lower-grade seat, pneumatic caster wheels as opposed to flat-free caster wheels, and Kohler engines instead of Kawasaki.
However, Weber is quick to point out that key durability and performance features remain part of the ProCat SE's design. These include 12cc Hydro-Gear pumps, 7-gauge deck skirts and 11.5-mph ground speeds.
Open frame design makes service easier. Another key feature found on the ProCat SE is the open frame design. It's not an exclusive feature to the SE, but it is salient in the minds of busy landscape contractors. The open frame design not only enhances visibility, but also makes maintenance easier.
"The open frame design gives operators better access to the battery, hydraulic tank and oil filter, and things like that," Weber says. "This is especially important to fleet owners. They have machines out in the field and want them to stay out in the field. They don't want to have to stop and maintain them all of the time."
Not for everybody … or is it? Weber adds that owner/operators, not just multi-crew fleet owners, will also appreciate the open frame design. In fact, he expects some owner/operators to take a liking to the ProCat SE in general.
Not all BOB-CAT dealers are so sure. One in particular, who wishes to remain anonymous, has some mixed feelings out of the gate. “The Pro Cat SE is a nice mower with a 30% larger deck opening and some frame changes, but seems to be identical to other ProCat Mowers with a Kohler engine instead of Kawasaki,” the dealer said. “I will not sell a lot of this model because Kohler does not sell well in my area; Kawasaki sells 10-1 over Kohler. The BOB-CAT ProCat with a 22-, 26- or 29-hp Kawasaki will continue to be a great combination for 5 acre-plus residential customers and some commercial buyers.”
Nonetheless, Weber is confident that a variety of lawn maintenance contractors will conclude that the ProCat SE is a great value. "We tried to make sure that we didn't take out the features contractors are looking for," Weber relates. "It has the same frame, deck, pumps and hydraulic system as our other ProCat mowers. It just can prove to be a little bit more economical."