Alan Shaw joined Husqvarna in August as executive vice president, heading the Americas business unit which includes the U.S. He took the time to answer some questions from Green Industry Pros. Below is that conversation.
Q. What are your thoughts on the Husqvarna business as it exists today?
The Americas unit generates about 40% of Husqvarna Group revenues, and the demand outlook for the region remains strong. Leading the Husqvarna Americas unit is a tremendous new experience for me—especially given the ongoing growth and strength of the brand, its innovative products and its evolving distribution channels.
Q: What is evolving with Husqvarna's distribution channels?
We strive to deliver the best possible solutions for our distribution channels by closely tracking channel-specific activity and adjusting to our customers' needs, which is a constant evolution. As online shopping trends continue to rise, it’s important that we evolve our strategy, offerings and support tools to help these channels manage their businesses.
Q: How is your U.S. dealer network positioned?
Very well. We have over 4,000 independent dealers nationwide. Our dealers are instrumental to our business. We have a renewed focus on providing the best possible support solutions to them so their businesses can thrive.
Q: You come from more of a consumer background. What is your vision for the professional side of Husqvarna's business? For instance, while some landscape contractors swear by Husqvarna equipment, our research shows Husqvarna as a "middle of the pack" brand in the minds of many landscape professionals. How do you change that?
We change that by continuing to work with key professionals in the industry who we have developed and nurtured relationships with. These customers are out in the field every day working with outdoor power equipment, and our ongoing interactions with them allow us to get a better pulse on trends, likes, dislikes, where our product has fallen off, improvements or suggestions that need to be made to our products, and so on. This open dialogue helps shape how we address the professional portion of our business.
Additionally, we continue to support and provide the needed professional products to our independent dealers. Professionals turn to our dealers for sales, service and support, so it is imperative that we continue to provide the efficient solutions both dealers and professionals need in their daily work.
Q: On that note, zero-turn mowers revolutionized the landscape maintenance industry in the 1990s. Lately manufacturers seem to be primarily focused on fuel efficiency, i.e. propane, EFI and now even flex fuel mowers. Where is the next big game-changer going to come along to once again revolutionize the landscape maintenance industry?
The development of smart tools such as smart products (integrated with microchips) and fleet management systems that can communicate to landscape crews or service technicians potentially could provide some major insights into our industry about how products are used, where breakdowns have occurred, and so on.
The ongoing monitoring of machine and crew performance helps boost overall productivity. Reduced equipment upkeep time and the resulting increase in operator efficiency can result in major cost reductions—benefits that are often unforeseen by landscapers and arborists.