Trimmers That Trim Cost

With pre-season sales of trimmers already looking promising, 2013 could be a good year for the product category as commercial users embrace multi-tasking tools and plan to buy in the coming year.

According to OPEI data through fall 2012, trimmer sales were up 4%. Manufacturers like Husqvarna said they saw growth in the sales of commercial-grade trimmers in 2012. And a fall buying intentions survey conducted by our sister publication, Green Industry PRO magazine, further reinforces a positive outlook with 68% of contractors saying they intend to buy a trimmer in 2013.

Sales estimations

Dealers are ordering strong for 2013 and filled their floors with inventory as the spring selling season approached. They also prepared by generating promotional materials for the peak season while experiencing a good amount of pre-season sales.

"Pre-season sales of trimmers are slightly higher compared to last year," shares Scott Walker, vice president and general manager for Bryan Equipment Sales headquartered in Loveland, OH. "Given (the right) weather, we expect an increase in trimmer sales." Bryan Equipment is a regional distributor of Stihl equipment.

Many manufacturers believe that if the weather cooperates, trimmer sales will be up in 2013. Warranties, promotions and financing options will help to drive sales of trimmers further.

"While it is largely dependent on weather, we have some great promotions in place that will help drive sales, along with our new extended consumer warranty program," says Jeff Dewosky, vice president of dealer sales for Husqvarna.

Durability a focus for all

Customers looking to buy are looking for something that will last. This is true of course for both commercial and homeowner users. They won't be skimping on price this selling season if it means the product they choose is built to last.

"Both commercial and consumer users are looking for value and durability," says Walker. "Commercial-user desires would also include power-to-weight ratio and fuel efficiency."

A product that pairs durability with comfort and ease-of-use is an easy sell. Add to that maintenance that is simple and infrequent, and the customer will likely add a few dollars to the purchase price they are happy with.

"Commercial users seek out dependable, durable products that require minimal maintenance," says Dewosky. "They also need something lightweight and ergonomic, since they use the product for multiple hours each day. Consumers also look for dependability and durability, and they seek out specific features like easy start and easy line replacement. We’ve heard from our consumers that they are willing to spend more to get a quality product."

Multi-use tools and multiple power options

Customers are looking for tools that save them money on the front-end with multi-use tools, and in the long-run with fuel savings. Multi-use tools are gaining popularity among commercial users who can quickly and affordably outfit a crewmember with a multitude of tools powered by one source. The versatile tools offer users savings on more than just the purchase price.

"Many users are choosing a 'multi-tasking' tool such as the Stihl KombiSystem," says Walker. "These units provide versatility, save on storage and transportation space, and provide significant cost savings."

Building off of the success of their Cordless Tool Line, Oregon recently entered the trimmer market with a battery-powered option. Their product is accessible to the homeowner but powerful enough for the commercial user.

"It was the natural extension for our Cordless Tool Line. Our objective is to offer a premium family of tools made for the homeowner as well as the professional," says Josh Huffman, senior product line manager for Oregon. "After the successful launch of our CS250 cordless chainsaw, the market reaction proved a strong demand for an accompanying trimmer that utilizes the same battery platform. The chainsaw is a bit more for a targeted market, whereas the trimmer has the potential to reach a broader audience."  

Oregon did a considerable amount of user surveys and testing before introducing the product and deciding they wanted to hit both the consumer and commercial markets. The company is very optimistic for sales in the year ahead.

"Both markets are very important to us. Clearly you have the opportunity for mass appeal and volume in the homeowner market, but we also recognize the needs the professional market has for our product," says Huffman. "We’ve got product flowing to the field and we’re very optimistic about the season ahead."