As the year comes to a close, Rural Lifestyle Dealer has compiled the top articles from each month of 2020. Take a look at what stories were trending on in June 2020.

1.     Most and Least Reliable Lawn Tractor Brands

In Consumer Reports’ latest survey of 11,217 subscribers, John Deere takes the top prize as the most reliable brand of lawn tractors and among the more reliable zero-turn-radius mowers. And reliability is key — in our fix-it surveys, readers told us that they're more likely to repair lawn tractors and ZTRs than any other products we ask about, even such big-ticket major appliances as washing machines and refrigerators.

But while several John Deere models, including the John Deere X350-42, $3,200, and the John Deere S240-42 Sport, $2,500, top our riding mower tests, they tend to be pricey, and you'll sacrifice a bit of performance if you zero in on a John Deere ZTR. So how heavily should you weigh reliability when deciding on the best riding mower for your property? Consider these key findings.

2. Fiat Chrysler Wins Trade Case Against Mahindra Over Jeep Copy

Reuters reports that a U.S. regulator ruled Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd infringed upon the intellectual property rights of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's (FCA) Jeep brand, barring the sale of the vehicles in question.

According to the report, “the International Trade Commission, in a decision released late Thursday, said Mahindra's Roxor off-road utility vehicle violated the "trade dress" of FCA's Jeep Wrangler SUV. The ITC issued a limited exclusion order prohibiting sale or import of the infringing vehicles and parts, as well as a cease and desist order to Mahindra and its North American unit.”

The order is effective immediately, but the U.S. Trade Representative has 60 days to potentially disapprove for policy reasons.

3. Briggs & Stratton Skips $6.7 Million Interest Payment

According to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Briggs & Stratton opted to not make a $6.7 million interest payment and instead the board of directors voted to pay executives and other key employees more than $5 million in cash retention awards, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The filling also noted that the board restored base salaries of both executives and managers as of July 1 from previously reduced levels that went into effect in April.

The decision not to make the interest payment triggered a 30-day grace period before it constitutes as a default on a credit agreement, according to the report.

4. Doosan Group to Seel Stake in Doosan Infracore; Pressure to Sell Doosan Bobcat

According to a report from The Korea Times, Doosan Group has put up its share of Doosan Infracore for sale. This has been interpreted as a way for the group to maintain control of Doosan Bobcat amid financial trouble.

The company is reportedly restructuring its Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction subsidiary, part of which includes selling its 36.27% share of Doosan Infracore, valued at 800 billion won ($660 million). The group's 51% stake in Doosan Bobcat has not been included in the sale, but there was reportedly pressure from creditors to sell it as well.

Large amounts of debt motivated the sale of Doosan Infracore, with the group reportedly scheduled to repay 4.2 trillion won ($3.5 billion) by the end of 2020. The group has filed for a bailout from state-run banks, resulting in lenders extending 3.6 trillion won ($3 billion) of loans and other financial support.

5. Lastec Introduces World's Biggest Zero-Turn Mower

Lastec introduces the world’s biggest zero turn mower with the 120” cutting width WZ1000 flex deck commercial zero turn mower. The WZ1000 joins the Lastec range of commercial and golf course mowers known throughout the world for a premium quality of cut with independently flexing decks. Built in the USA and starting at $48,900 USD, the WZ1000 provides up to 8.73 acres/hour coverage to fit the wide area production needs of commercial landscapers, lawn care professionals, sports fields, and golf courses.

Featuring a massive 120 inch cutting width, five 25 inch flex decks, and zero turn maneuverability, the Lastec WZ1000 commercial zero turn mower cuts with the accuracy of five small push mowers at the speed and production of a zero turn wide area mower. The WZ1000 includes five independently flexing decks with up to 24 degrees of total up/down motion for superior cut quality in even the most challenging contours and valleys.

6. What if Walmart Started Selling Compact Tractors?

Another box store announced that it is selling tractors — this time, it’s Rural King. The company has started branding TYM tractors and began selling 10 models ranging from 19-55 horsepower at 7 pilot stores this spring, with plans to sell throughout its 100-store network.

According to the company: “Prices range from $8,299 for the 19HP RK19 Hydrostatic sub-compact to $26,799 for the 55HP, Turbo-Charged RK55 Hydrostatic utility tractor with full HVAC cab.”

The pilot stores will have a dedicated tractor center with trained service teams. The company also promises a complete stock of replacement parts from its Waverly, Ohio, assembly facility within 2 days, along with financing, King Kutter attachments, etc. From the company’s website, here’s their stance on price: “Because we are buying directly from the tractor manufacturer, we can pass our savings along to you. You’ll see that we offer more power for a lower price than any of the other brands in this class. Our pricing also includes freight and assembly, elements that add to the price at most tractor dealers.”

7. Cleo Franklin Publishes Book of Leadership Lessons

Cleo Franklin, Morningside College alumnus and Hall of Fame inductee and Founder, President, and CEO of Franklin Strategic Solutions, will release a book of leadership lessons titled “Coffee with Cleo.”

Franklin, who also serves on the Board of Directors for Morningside College, is donating 10% of the profits from the sales of “Coffee with Cleo” to the Morningside College Franklin Leadership Foundation. He credits his time at the college with helping him prepare for his personal and professional journey.

8. The Oggun Model: A Tractor Company Without Dealers

What if your customer base had the option of purchasing tractors directly from the manufacturer for less money, with a simple design and components that could be sourced from local auto parts stores and serviced by non-certified independent mechanics? A partnership in Alabama, Cleber LLC, is pushing this concept that originated when the political climate recently began to change between the U.S. and Cuba.

It was December of 2014 when President Obama announced a desire to improve relations with Cuba, a country the U.S. had boycotted in one form or another for 56 years. Saul Berenthal called Horace Clemmons and wanted to immediately start exploring the possibility of establishing trade there, his home country until the age of 16.

9. As COVID-19 Drags On, Equipment Manufacturers Continue to Face Significant Challenges

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a toll on an industry that represents 12% of the U.S. manufacturing sector, according to a new survey released today by the Assn. of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). While equipment manufacturers are adjusting to the changing economic conditions, three quarters of U.S. equipment manufacturers say that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the overall economy is still very negative. In addition, six out of 10 executives say that the federal government has not done enough to support the industry as it continues to face decreased demand and disrupted supply chains.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively impact equipment manufacturers and the 2.8 million men and women of our industry,” said Dennis Slater, president of AEM. “We have seen some improvements to the operations and financial outlook for our member companies, but the industry still faces a long road back to normal. Even as our industry continues to help build, feed, and power our country, far too many of our member companies are running out of time.”

10. Briggs & Stratton to Move Wisconsin Production to New York

According to a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Briggs & Stratton plans to move some production from its Wauwatosa, Wis., facility to New York by the end of August. This includes production of its lawn tractor, residential zero-turn mower, snow thrower and pressure washer products. Some production will remain in Wisconsin, including standby generators and engine components production.

The company stated the reason for the move "is to streamline its production and distribution of products."

This follows another recent report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentiment that Briggs & Stratton recently skipped a $6.7 million interest payment "and instead the board of directors voted to pay executives and other key employees more than $5 million in cash retention awards."