That whooshing sound you heard a couple of weeks ago?
That was this year's GIE+EXPO coming and going in a flash of crowded trade show aisles, rows of shiny iron equipment in just about every color (except pink), and gritty wind-blown soil churned up by "cowboy operators."
Give a young buck landscaper free rein on a demo utility vehicle or fresh-from-the-factory zero-turn, stand back and watch the grass and dust fly.
And fly it did, especially the first day of the EXPO, Oct. 24, on the 19-acre outdoor demo area at the mammoth Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. Sunny skies pushed temperatures to 80 degrees, giving attendees the best of both worlds; the inside and the outside.
Traffic within the expo center, packed with the largest number of exhibitors it's had in years, stayed brisk right up to the closing hour. Pre-conference registrations were up 20 percent. Attendees also kept outdoor vendors extremely busy on the opening day of the expo as they sensed the approach of colder temperatures and rain that dampened outdoor demo activity the second day.
So, where do we start with the coverage?
How about at the beginning, the first things we saw, including a major expansion to the line of Caterpillar Mini-Hydraulic Excavators, John Deere's redesigned QuikTrak stand-on mower and Core Outdoor Power's line of battery-powered grounds equipment.
Time to stand up
"Commercial landscapers are recognizing the value that stand-on mowers bring to their fleets," says Steve Wilhelmi, John Deere tactical marketing manager.
Deere's new QuickTrak offers the shortest design available on the market, and it is also one of the lightest, making it highly maneuverable around obstacles and contours in the turf. Also, it's easy to trailer, allowing crews to have multiple mowers on a job site.
The QuikTrak is available in two different series: the B Series and R Series.
Caterpillar's Dave Wood talked up the company's new line of sub 3-ton mini-excavators. These units can go through the smallest of entrances but pack a lot of digging power and versatility thanks to a variety of work tools.
The B Series features a 22 hp engine with a seven-gauge, fabricated 52-inch fixed deck. The R Series is available with a 22 hp or 23.5 hp engine with 48-, 52- or 61-inch, seven-gauge fabricated floating decks. The R Series also offers a quick height-of-cut adjustment.
Cat expands its mini line
Caterpillar's Dave Wood, making the trip from England where he lives and works for the global equipment maker, walked editors through the company's lineup of sub 3-ton mini-excavators. These small workhorses can be used in just about any small space and are becoming increasingly popular with landscape contractors. The smallest of the units is the 300.9D that weighs 2,200 pounds, has a digging depth of 5 feet and can go through an opening no wider than 2 feet, 5 inches. The largest that Wood showed us was the 302.7D, weighing 5,887 pounds, powered with a 20.7 hp Yanmar engine and a digging depth approaching 8 feet. It can go through openings no wider than 3 feet, 2 inches. Also on display were two other models positioned in size and power between the 309D and the 302.7D.
"These machines will go into places you wouldn't take other machines," said Wood. "And every machine is ready to operate right away."
Wood stressed the quiet, spacious cabs and ergonomic controls of these machines and the availability of a range of work tools that can be put to task almost immediately thanks to their pin-grabber couplers and quick disconnects. Other features include auto idle and a load-sensing variable pump to optimize fuel efficiency.
Core Outdoor Power attracted positive attention at the GIE+EXPO with its line of "Gasless" turf trimmers, hedge trimmers and blowers.
GasLess in L'ville
The issues of emissions, unit weight and noise - especially on sensitive properties such as hospitals, nursing homes and school grounds - are causing a larger number of contractors to investigate electric-powered equipment.
Core Outdoor Power attracted considerable attention at the GIE+EXPO with its line of GasLess CGT400 Trimmers, hedge trimmers, hand-held and backpack blowers. The Montana-based company says it's coming out with a GasLess self-propelled, walk-behind mower in 2013.
Core Outdoor Power claims its units can compete with gasoline-powered units because of their patented Conductor Optimized Rotary Energy (CORE) technology, which employs a printed circuit board stator to eliminate wire windings and iron laminations found in traditional electric motors. The use of CORE motors enables these units to product a high-torque rotary motion at very high efficiency levels, which leads to longer run times and commercial performance.
"We have dedicated the past several years to perfecting this technology and are confident that it will revolutionize the outdoor power equipment industry," says company spokesman Mark Bubert.
Stay tuned as we share more great new products from GIE+EXPO 2012 in Turf's twice monthly e-Reports and in the upcoming print issues of Turf magazine.
Ron Hall is editor-in-chief of Turf magazine. He has been reporting on the landscape/lawn service industry for the pat 28 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.