One year ago, Positec USA Executive Vice President David Johnson talked to Rural Lifestyle Dealer about the company’s plans to grow its North American dealer network in 2023 and how it was recruiting dealers. Now, in an interview at Equip Expo 2023, Johnson speaks about how much the network developed in 2023 and what the company expects for next year.

Network Growing, But Not Done

In December 2022, Johnson said Kress wanted 1,500 dealers for its first North American season. During Equip Expo, he said while the company didn’t reach that goal, it made progress and continues to add dealers. Johnson declined to confirm how many dealers Kress has in North America.

“We haven't gotten there yet, but we're close,” Johnson says. “We're getting more and more dealers. And we’re heading into the recruiting season, if you will. For landscapers and dealers, things are starting to calm down a little bit. Our team has been doing a lot of work during the season to get this product launched, and we'll begin to refocus ourselves on recruiting dealers — the right dealers — as we get into that November through February timeframe. Our targets are still high, and we're still very focused on that.”

 Johnson adds the company’s aim to develop an RTK network is connected to its dealer recruitment, as Kress needs “a certain number of dealers” to provide coverage.

“A big reason we need a certain number of dealers is around our robotics program” says Johnson. “One of the pillars of our business is in robotification for cutting grass. Our network we're building is our own. It's an RTK network, and we need a certain number of dealers to be able to provide nationwide coverage. We need to have an antenna in their building, and they also need to be in the right geography so we can build the network in the right places for all of our dealers to be able to sell those products.”

Kress’ most successful dealers have been those with a large landscaper customer base, as the company spent a majority of 2023 launching its commercial range, according to Johnson.

Kress’ Partnership Program allows dealers to take product on consignment, where Kress pays dealers commission as they sell the product. Johnson says this helps dealers offset some of the risk that can come with taking on a new brand.

“I think it's helped us get started, for sure,” says Johnson. “It lowers the risk for dealers to get with a company like ours that doesn’t have a big track record in the dealer channel. It's aggressive, very aggressive and has been well received by the dealers.”

Competition in the Battery-Powered Space

Johnson says it’s only a matter of time before gas is replaced with battery power. “It's a matter of when,” he says. “And I feel we've taken a huge leap forward vs. the competition that's out there today. When we talk to dealers, they see this really clearly.”

As more manufacturers in the rural lifestyle market roll out electric offerings — for example, Yanmar’s upcoming electric compact tractor or Senix’s electric ZTR — Johnson sees the competition getting tougher in the next 2-4 years. However, he isn’t worried about Kress’ future in the battery-powered space.

“Competition in this space is tough,” Johnson says. “We happen to be a battery company. That's what we've done for 30 years. We've never made a gas-powered tool in our history. We've always only made battery and electric tools.

“These other companies that are gas-centric are obviously going to see this trend and begin to make their battery platforms viable for landscapers as well. I do see the competition getting tougher in the next 2-4 years down the road. I feel we've taken a massive step forward in the ability to provide a landscaper a real opportunity to transition from gas to electric through charging times, battery life and uncompromised power and performance of a product. But we're not stopping either. So it'll be an interesting next 3-4 years to see how fast this happens.”

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