Rural Lifestyle Dealer asked regular GIE+2018 attendees Doug Nord and Tim Berman what impressed them at GIE+Expo. Nord owns Nord Outdoor Power Equipment of Bloomington, Ill., and Berman owns Big Red’s Equipment of Granbury, Texas.

Comments from Doug Nord:

I was really impressed with the progression of the auto mower category. It was amazing how many companies had this type of product on display. It reminds me of battery powered products a few years ago. I am aware of a local church that is installing six of these units to mow their property and I have homeowners coming in and wanting to look at the auto mower option. Along with auto mowers, the products to install the underground fence will be critical.

I was really happy to see Toro's updates to their 30-inch Turf Master. This has been a great walk-behind for our commercial clients and now they have addressed a few areas we saw could make this unit even better and more reliable.

Swift was showing off prototype sprayers to attach to blowers. The components looked really well made and easy to install. This could be a hot seller if they are able to get the price right for the customer. They were looking at around $199, which I think is high. That price is higher than most of the blowers they are attached to.

Battery-powered top-handle chainsaws from Stihl and Husqvarna are going to be great for those climbing trees or working in buckets. People are already asking about this new product so they don’t have to pull cords for starting.

The larger backpack blowers are really impressive. Echo seems to have really hit the mark with their 44 Newton PB-8010, while Stihl has the new side-pull starting system on their all new 41 Newton BR-800C that could be a real be advantage for customers.

Doug Nord owns Nord Outdoor Power Equipment of Bloomington, Ill.

The new Oil Guard system from Briggs on select Vanguard engines really caught my attention. Sometimes commercial cutters have trouble getting their oil changed during the busy time of the year or they just forget and don't keep good records. This new system provides up to 500 hours between oil changes. There is also increased oil capacity which, while not relieving them from checking the oil level, will give a larger cushion against running low.

I was impressed with the products from a company called EZ Kut. My wife has trouble with hand strength and she was able to easily use their ratcheting pruners to cut a 2-inch limb. If she's impressed, I'm impressed. They also had other products that we thought would be great options for our customers.

I also liked the tent system to protect generators operating out in the rain. It was from a company called GenTent. How many people who are camping, operate food trucks or are just out of power could use something like this? Have you ever seen a homeowner put their generator in the garage because they didn’t want it out in the elements? We all know how dangerous this can be. I think this product could really help get some generators out of the garage or other inappropriate locations.

I found some heated windshield wipers from Crystal Clear out of Canada. The quality and features looked good. How many times do you have to deal with windshield wipers building up with ice? Just think of how this product would improve visibility and issues facing snowplow drivers, equipment operators and farm tractor operation in winter. Even in your personal vehicle, this item would be a real benefit to keep the windows clear.

After review at GIE, we have added the cast iron Kamado style grills made by Goldens' Cast Iron from Georgia. They are a family-owned company in their fifth generation and we are really impressed. We also saw a new rough terrain system for the Smokin Brothers grills. This will be great for many customers, not just those traveling over rough areas. We have carried the products from this family-owned company that are made in the USA since 2010.

Comments from Tim Berman:

It was a great show again. Here are a few that caught my eye:

Hustler Dash and Raptor SDX. Hustler is filling out their lineup, and the Dash is an industry disruptor with a fabricated deck at the $2,199 price point!

Tim Berman owns Big Red’s Equipment of Granbury, Texas.

The Bad Boy Outlaw series has been significantly refined. I was very impressed with them. They’re also moving up market with price points now up to $11,000 with a 38 horsepower EFI Kohler engine. These are very nice machines compared to the last generation.

Branson’s 3515 cab is going to be a hot item at a great price point. They offer very spacious cabs, and I think they will retail with a loader under $25,000.

Software: One of the subjects I discussed with the software vendors was the consolidation in the industry and if they are considering providing data as a service. For instance, Lightspeed takes consolidated dealer data and reports it to Powersports Business for industry reports. Constellation now has so much data, spanning thousands of dealers, they could pull that off as well. They already do that for Ideal users and plan to bring that to Infinity users. too.

I also suggested to the EDA that they acquire DMS data to enhance the manufacturer survey report for things like average warranty shortage, average parts margin, average units stocked, etc.

With ARI and Dealer Spike now under the same ownership, they’re also working on sharing technology between the two companies. They didn’t have a lot of specifics yet, but that is a positive thing. There is way too much siloed data in our industry. More integrated software will enable us dealers to do more with fewer people. I’m glad to see the trend in this direction is continuing.

Dealer Details

  • Nord Power Equipment of Bloomington, Ill., carries Stihl, Echo, Toro, Kubota, Land Pride, Spartan, Billy Goat, Bear Cat, Stinger, Shindaiwa, Timberwolf, Smokin Brothers Grills, Big Green Egg grills, Goldens’ Cast Iron Grills and VAL6 heaters.
  • Big Red’s Equipment of Granbury, Texas, carries Branson, Cub Cadet, Land Master, ODES, Bad Boy, Exmark, Hustler, Echo, Raven, Cross Trailers, Big Bee attachments, Muratori, Terra Force, Woods Equipment and Titan attachments.