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 July 2020.


1. Home Depot Resets Investment in Outdoor Power; Drops EGO

The Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer, today announced that it is accelerating its investments in resets of its outdoor power categories, as it also refines and simplifies its primary brands across the category.

"We have been extremely pleased by the customer response to our premiere outdoor power brands, as we improved the shopping experience with a simplified presentation," said Ted Decker, executive vice president, Merchandising. "Similar to prior resets in our power tool business, outdoor power equipment is being reset and positioned by brand, and we will complete this rollout to approximately 1,300 U.S. stores by year's end."

2. Who Will Buy Briggs & Stratton Turf Lines

In March, Briggs & Stratton announced plans to divest its turf product lines, which includes lawn and garden and turf care equipment sold under the Ferris, Billy Goat, Simplicity, Snapper, and Snapper Pro brands. 

What you think will happen with Brigg's & Stratton's turf products (including Ferris, Billy Goat, Simplicity, Snapper, and Snapper Pro brands.) If you carry one of or more of these lines, what sort of impact do you anticipate the sale of brands will have on your business?

3. Briggs & Stratton Enters into Sale Agreement, Initiates Voluntary Reorganization Under Chapter 11

Briggs & Stratton Corporation (NYSE: BGG), today announced it has entered into a definitive stock and asset purchase agreement with KPS Capital Partners, LP (KPS), which has more than a 20-year history focused on successfully developing world-class, industry-leading manufacturing companies. Under the terms of the agreement, an affiliate of KPS formed for purposes of this transaction has agreed to acquire substantially all of the Company's assets and assume certain customer, employee and vendor liabilities, and it would act as the stalking-horse bidder through a court-supervised sale process (known as a Section 363 process). Among other things, the sale agreement is subject to higher or better bids from other potential purchasers.

To facilitate the sale process and address its debt obligations, the Company has filed petitions for a court- supervised voluntary reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The Company has also obtained $677.5 million in DIP financing, with $265 million committed by KPS and the remaining $412.5 from the Company's existing group of ABL lenders. Following court approval, the DIP facility will ensure that the Company has sufficient liquidity to continue normal operations and to meet its financial obligations during the Chapter 11 process, including the timely payment of employee wages and health benefits, continued servicing of customer orders and shipments, and other obligations.

4. Lowe's Announces Exclusive Partnership with EGO, Expands Outdoor Power Offering

Lowe's Companies, Inc (NYSE: LOW), announced that it is expanding its industry-leading portfolio of outdoor power brands as it launches EGO battery-powered outdoor power equipment. Beginning in December 2020, Lowe's will be the exclusive nationwide home center to offer the top-rated line of EGO's  battery-powered mowers, blowers, string trimmers, hedge trimmers, edgers, chainsaws and snowblowers. Earlier this week Home Depot announced it was no longer carrying EGO

EGO products will be available online at and in select stores in fall 2020 and will roll out to all U.S. stores nationwide by February 2021, furthering the company's commitment to offering more sustainable products in its assortment. The battery-powered, cordless line of outdoor power equipment is capable of matching or exceeding the performance of conventional gas items, without the noise and fumes.

5. Dealer Weigh In On Who Will Buy Briggs & Stratton's Turf Lines

"I am a Billy Goat dealer in Southern California and I hope that Echo buys Billy Goat. I believe they are the distributor nationwide for the product. Billy Goat has a diverse line and most of their line is top notch. GEDC (owned by Echo 100%) is hands down the best distributor we have and they really, really understand customer service.  

"We've been an Echo dealer since sometime in the 70s, a Stihl dealer for +40 years and a Honda dealer for more than 30 years, so we've been around the block. 

"Service really is THE name of the game and a product line will completely fail if there is no service behind it.

"On the Snapper front, here in California we need another 21 inch commercial walk behind mower brand besides Toro, Exmark and Honda, but I'm doubtful Snapper is that brand. I remember the early 'commercial' mower Snapper with the Honda motor that really allowed Honda to get a foothold here in the U.S.  

“I really just don't see where Ferris, Simplicity or Snapper can create an added value for me or my customers. Sad to say, but maybe they should close out the lines. I would not consider bringing in any of the brands.”

 — Laura Toro, Toro's Lawnmower, Garden & Chain Saw Center, La Crescenta,  Calif.

6. Consumer Reports Ranks Most, Least Reliable Riding Mower Brands

Consumer Reports has released its latest member survey results on riding mowers. According to the survey, nearly one-third of riding mowers either break or develop problems in the first 5 years of ownership. According to the report, 

"The most commonly reported problem among riding mowers has to do with the mower belt, affecting 14 percent of riding mowers," says Martin Lachter, a senior research associate at Consumer Reports. "The next most common problems are related to the engine and mower deck."

7. 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.

8. Dealers Once Again Rank OPE Manufacturers Above the Rest

The Equipment Dealers Assn. (EDA) has released the results of its annual Dealer-Manufacturer Relations Survey to equipment dealers. The survey, which enables equipment dealers throughout North America to rate the manufacturer lines they carry in key operational categories, was open from February 13 through March 18, 2020.

EDA’s survey allows dealers to rate up to 7 manufacturers they carry and collects data on their experience in 11 categories including product quality, availability and technical support; parts availability, quality and return policy; communication, warranty, marketing/advertising support and a separate rating for overall satisfaction. Respondents could rate manufacturers on a scale from 1-7, where 1 is “extremely dissatisfied” and 7 is “extremely satisfied.”

The 2020 survey contains a list of 61 manufacturers that received the minimum number of dealer ratings required to be included in the report, including full-line manufacturers, tractor manufacturers, shortline manufacturers and outdoor power equipment (OPE) manufacturers. This article focuses on the performance of the shortline manufacturers included in the report.

9. Lastec Introduces World's Biggest Zero Turn Mower

Lastec introduces the world’s biggest zero turn mower with the 120 inch 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.

10. Howse Implement's Rise, Fall & Resurrection

“The history of Howse Implement Co. Inc. is best told after meeting the man who started the company. C.J. Howse was an entrepreneur from the school of ‘hard work and learn as you go….’” That’s from a document shared by Ben Howse, son of the founder, C.J. Howse, who started the company in 1964. The document ends with words like “liquidate” and “scrap,” referencing the company’s recent unsuccessful attempts to crawl out of financial distress and the online auctions of its machines, tooling, inventory, parts and intellectual property (IP).

Part of the Howse legacy remains, however, now in the hands of Doug Addis, owner of Southern Farm Supply, who has carried the Howse line for nearly 35 years.

Howse, based in Laurel, Miss., manufactured over 300 product lines and 2,300 models of equipment, including rotary cutters, disc harrows, grader blades, box blades and post-hole diggers. Southern Farm Supply of Union Grove, N.C., is a Case IH dealership, serving central and western North Carolina as well as a full-service service shop and a shortline distributor to many manufacturers.