The SZ Series is designed for contractors who mow zero lot homes or commercial properties with narrow lawns.

Kubota Tractor Corp. entered the stand-on mower segment and introduced a new line of commercial mowers. The new SZ Series is Kubota’s entry models in the commercial stand-on mower category. The SZ Series will be available at Kubota dealerships in January 2019.

Kubota’s SZ Series is comprised of three models, including the SZ19-36, SZ22-48 and the SZ26-52. The new stand-on mowers are designed for landscapers who mow zero lot homes or commercial properties with narrow lawns that can’t be mowed with zero turn mowers. The SZ Series mowers are equipped with Kawasaki FX and FT Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) commercial engines and hydro-gear transmissions and are designed with a low center of gravity for exceptional stability and fast travel speeds, up to 11 mph, depending on model.

The wide and angled operator platform offers ample legroom with the option to flip up the platform and walk behind the mower. Other features include tool-less front reference bar adjustment, tool-less tracking adjustment, adjustable dampened control levers, easy-access to maintenance points and flat-free tires designed to absorb impacts and mitigate downtime.

New EFI models. The company also unveiled three new Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) commercial mowers.

Kubota added the Z751KWi with 48-inch deck, Z781KWi with 54-inch deck and the Z781KWTi with a large 60-inch deck to its professional Z700 Series of zero turn mowers.

Other features on the new EFI models include 24 inch low profile tires for reduced ground pressure and tire roll, a large 3.5 inch LCD engine monitor and a dial throttle control for precise engine management, a new style suspension seat and a deck step indicator for improved comfort and easy operator entry, water and dust proof safety switches and 6.5 inch no-flat caster tire to eliminate downtime, and a 12 volt outlet to charge and power 12V devices.

With the addition of the three new EFI models, Kubota’s Z700 Series now includes a total of nine models,

The Staris is built with a number of features to enhance weight distribution for improved stability and overall performance.

Reinvented from the ground up, the Exmark Staris’ low center of gravity, engine placement, operator position, fuel tanks and tower structure are all designed to enhance weight distribution for improved stability and overall performance. The Staris frame is constructed of high-strength tubular steel with the same wall thickness as the industry-standard Exmark Lazer Z zero-turn riding mower.

Staris is available in E-Series models, with a choice of 32-, 36- and 44-inch UltraCut Series 3 cutting decks, and large-frame S-Series models, with a choice of 48-, 52- or 60-inch UltraCut Series 4 cutting decks. Exmark optimized the frame design and caster wheel positioning for each cutting deck width to deliver a superior quality of cut. The side-discharge UltraCut cutting decks also offer the ability to mulch or bag clippings when equipped with the appropriate accessories from Exmark.

Staris offers smooth control with drive speeds of up to 7.5 MPH on E-Series, and up to 10 MPH on S-Series models, thanks to Exmark’s proven hydro pump and wheel motor combination. The drive system also utilizes hard hydraulic lines, reducing potential leak points and improving durability and hydro oil cooling.

Staris E- and S-Series models position the operator between the drive tires, and provide an adjustable suspension system for increased comfort. Additionally, Staris S-Series is designed with a large open platform and non-slip rubber mat, which allows operators to easily change stance or position, for maximum comfort throughout the day.

The intuitive controls make operating Staris easy, and Staris S-Series models feature Exmark’s innovative Smart Controller, which reduces downtime with maintenance reminders, on-screen machine health diagnostics, as well as engine and PTO hours. The Smart Controller also includes an enhanced LCD screen for increased visibility in any light.

With the ability to fit through gates as narrow as 36-inches, the compact design of the 32-inch Staris E-Series model gives landscape professionals access to more yards, more quickly, without fatigue.

Expanded Radius model. The company is also expanding its Radius line of zero-turn riding mowers to include a new 44-inch Radius E-Series model.

According to Exmark product manager, Mike Mayfield, the 44-inch Radius E-Series model offers landscape professionals and homeowners a smaller, more nimble mower that’s ideal for landscaped yards, where maneuverability is at a premium.

As Exmark’s most affordable Radius model, the 44-inch Radius E-Series machine includes a 5-inch deep UltraCut Series 3 cutting deck. Fully fabricated and welded from high-strength steel, the two-blade UltraCut Series 3 cutting deck features large-diameter, no maintenance, sealed bearing blade spindle housings. Additionally, Exmark’s exclusive flow-control baffles provide an unmatched quality of cut.

Radius models feature a heavy-duty unibody frame that’s fabricated from 2-inch by 3-inch rectangular steel tubing for maximum durability and strength. The frame design places the heaviest components, including the engine, fuel tank and hydro drive system, lower in the frame for increased stability and traction, with improved weight balance and maneuverability.

The 44-inch Radius E-Series model features integrated Hydro-Gear transmissions that deliver maximum durability, smooth control and forward speeds of up to 7 mph. The Exmark 702 V-Twin engine delivers the power and torque needed to make quick work of big mowing jobs. Features of the Exmark engine include a dual-barrel carburetor, cast iron cylinder liners and a quick-drain oil hose for tools-free oil changes.

The Caterpillar range of Next Generation mini hydraulic excavators has been expanded with the addition of six new models in the 7-to-10-ton category.  

The new-model lineup includes the 307.5, a standard tail swing model with a fixed boom; 308 CR, a compact radius model with a swing boom; 308 CR VAB, featuring a variable angle (two-piece) swing boom; 309 CR, a new model in the mini range featuring a compact radius, swing boom, and high flow auxiliary hydraulics; 309 CR VAB, which expands the 309 CR's capability with a variable angle boom; and 310, also new to the range, featuring a fixed boom, standard tail swing, and twin blade cylinders for handling heavy-duty dozing chores.

The new models range in maximum operating weight from 18,152 to 22,447 pounds (8 233 to 10 182 kg) and in standard dig depths from 13 feet 5 inches to 17 feet (4 107 to 5 174 mm). Three models—307.5, 308 CR, and 309 CR—are available with a long-stick option that increases dig depth by approximately 22 inches (560 mm). The variable angle boom, available with the 308 CR VAB and 309 CR VAB, enhances digging capability in congested work areas. Powering the 307.5 is the Cat C2.4 turbo diesel engine rated at 55.9 net horsepower (41.7 kW); the five larger models use the Cat C3.3 diesel engine rated at 70.3 net horsepower (52.4 kW).

The design of Cat Next Generation mini excavators emphasizes operator comfort, convenience, and safety. The six new models are fitted with cabs, sealed and pressurized to ensure a clean environment, and featuring a redesigned heating/ventilating/air conditioning system that ensures all-weather climate control.

The new Caterpillar 903D, compared with its 903C2 predecessor, features a 25 percent increase in both lifting capacity and travel speed, so customers are able to do more, faster. Whether lifting a heavy pallet or sod or traveling from field to farm, the 903D is up to the task. With new optional features, such as creep control, throttle lock and work tool electrical harness, the 903D has the ability to run any number of tools.

Available with either an open or enclosed cab, the 903D operator's station features a refined ergonomic design with a new multi-function joystick that provides fingertip control of the standard third-function hydraulic system. Whether lifting light material into a hopper or loading heavy pallets onto a truck, the choice of standard-lift or high-lift boom arms increase the 903D's ability to work efficiently in a wide range of applications, with buckets ranging in capacity from 0.8 to 1.3 yd3 (0.6 to 1.0 m3), forks, or a selection of powered and non-powered work tools.

Last year, Caterpillar announced the introduction of its first-ever Cat utility vehicles. To expand that offering, the product line now includes the gasoline-powered Cat CUV85 and diesel-powered CUV105 D. The CUV85 and CUV105 D both feature a spacious second row to accommodate a total of five people. Caterpillar gathered extensive customer and dealer input to build a UTV that delivers the unrivaled combination of durability, comfort and maintenance simplicity. Rigorous vehicle testing ensures both utility vehicles meet the superior quality and reliability customers expect from Caterpillar.

The CUV85 and CUV105 D feature a rugged steel cargo bed and offer 1,000-lb (454-kg) total rear cargo capacity and 2,000-lb (907-kg) towing capacity for outstanding performance in a variety of applications. These Cat UTVs deliver a premium experience at a competitive price. 

Caterpillar side dishcarge buckets - designed for use with skid steer loaders, multi-terrain loaders, compact track loaders, and compact wheel loaders - collect and transport loose materials such as sawdust, sand, mulch, and topsoil and then discharge these materials via a belt-type conveyor from adjustable openings (doors) on either side of the bucket. A rotating agitator works to keep material flowing to the conveyor. Adjusting conveyor speed and door openings controls the volume of material discharged and the area covered. Features of the Cat Side Discharge Bucket suit this attachment for varied application, including agriculture, construction, landscaping, road maintenance, and material handling.

Briggs & Stratton – which has recently acquired companies like Ferris, Billy Goat, InfoHub and Snapper – revealed what the company and its affiliates have worked on since last October.

“Briggs & Stratton Corporation and its family of brands continue to innovate with the goal of making work easier for end users; whether performing routine lawn maintenance at home or tackling the toughest jobs as part of a landscaping business,” CEO and president Todd Teske said. “As Briggs & Stratton celebrates its 110th anniversary year, the innovations featured at this year’s show are even more meaningful as we reflect on where it all began in 1908 and how significantly the business has transformed and will continue to transform long into the future.”

Ferris showed it’s expanding beyond cutting with its brand new ISX800 zero-turn commercial mowers and a new lineup of stand-on mowers by Snapper Pro. The newest mower uses its patent-pending ForeFront Suspension System, which utilizes four upper and lower control rods that ensure the front caster bearing remains vertical through the full range of travel for added rider comfort.

Billy Goat introduced its Hurricane X3 and Z3 stand-on blowers, which are ideal for commercial landscapers working on large properties. Their Joystick Deflector Controls provide quick adjustment of airflow from left, right or forward directions, eliminating the need to blow in reverse, and it blows air quietly, even at its top speeds of 165 miles per hour. The company also debuted its Next Gen 25 In PLUGGR aerator, capable of aerating roughly 42,500 square feet of land in a single pass.

Snapper Pro released two new stand-on mower models – the SS100 and SS200. The mowers are built to handle high mowing speeds in wide open areas and have the patent-pending Oil Guard systems to reduce contractor expenditures on oil by what the company estimates at 60 percent.

A company’s online presence isn’t just about posting on social media – Jack Jostes said it’s about crafting a brand that represents an organization’s core values and what sets them apart from the competition.

Jostes, an author and president and CEO of marketing consulting business Ramblin Jackson, believes there’s a major problem in the industry: Random guys in pickup trucks are lowballing potential customers and taking away business from landscapers. Clients are falling for the lower prices because they need reasons to trust landscaping businesses and need convenience. During his presentation at LANDSCAPES 2018, Jostes said Google searches on smartphones for “landscaping near me” have quadrupled in the last four years.

Clients just want to know their needs will be taken care of, Jostes said. Building that trust online requires deliberate steps toward building a modern online brand.

“All sales are motivated by pain or pleasure, and it’s way easier to sell against pain than it is pleasure,” Jostes said. “The job of your branding is really to relieve these people’s fears so they feel confident in you.”

There are some easy immediate steps to take to build trust with clients. First, answer the phone – and if you don’t, call back as soon as possible. Customers search landscaping businesses online and call the phone numbers that pop up, so fielding those calls is essential. If your company is particularly swamped, Jostes recommends a service called CallRuby, which permits live receptionists to answer the phones on behalf of your company.

1.5ton Mini Excavator

“If somebody else answers the phone and books the appointment, they’re like 10 times more likely to get the sale than the contractor who gets back with them a day or two or a week later,” Jostes said.

In terms of building an online presence for recruiting clients and new employees, Jostes said companies should first work on building their brand before developing their website, SEO posts, and social media presences. Jostes said most every company will tell clients that they stand for integrity and craftsmanship, but these buzzwords only go so far now. Jostes said companies should dig deep to define a company’s true mission and determine what makes them different from competitors. Figure out what your core values are, Jostes said, and let them be known.

Jostes said logos matter: Clients fear landscapers are just shady, but logos and website design can prove to a potential customer that your company does work worth the price clients pay. Jostes also recommends making websites responsive across all devices and inspire people to trust your company with lively photography of your past projects and your employees.

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