Dealers who are interested in increasing the variety of equipment for sale in their showroom may do so by partnering with a single supplier. Major manufacturers of small outdoor power and handheld equipment (OPE) offer a large array of equipment for the rural lifestyle market to meet their needs for application, power, size and price.

The executives for Tanaka, Husqvarna, Emak and Stihl who Rural Lifestyle Dealer interviewed for this feature say their companies are in growth mode. While the world's economy has been as challenging for them as for any manufacturer, they say upcoming new products and aggressive distribution and marketing plans will help them maintain and grow their positions in North America.

The dealer is integral in the growth plans for all four manufacturers. While big-box sales are important avenues for three of the manufacturers (Stihl works only with servicing dealers) all have strategies in place to recruit and support equipment dealers.

Tanaka, part of the global Hitachi Power Tools group in Norcross, Ga., has a two-brand approach, placing Tanaka-branded equipment in dealer's hands and Hitachi on the shelves of mass marketers. Charlotte, N.C.-based Husqvarna reserves its Husqvarna-branded professional products for the dealer market. And Wooster, Ohio-based Emak works to ensure servicing dealers are nearby to support equipment that's sold through a home improvement chain, as well as in new areas of the country.