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5 Questions: Tim Kubista

August 8, 2022 -  By
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Photo: LM Staff

RC Mowers plans to take its robotic mower on the road with around 150 to 160 stops during its 2022 Great American Road Show, running through October. (Photo: LM Staff)

Tim Kubista

Vice President of Sales and Marketing, RC Mowers, Green Bay, Wis.

1.  Tell me about yourself. What company do you work for, and what do you do? 

I work at RC Mowers. I’m vice president of sales and marketing. I’m responsible for generating revenue and all of our messaging, marketing, you name it. RC Mowers is a young company, about 3-and-a-half-years old. Our expertise is in robotics. We’re based in Green Bay, Wis. We have 35 employees.

2. It was a lot of fun operating the TK-52XP; it’s like a tank! What should I know about it? 

A lot of people do refer to it as a tank. It’s a remote-control robotic mower on tracks. It’s designed to mow extreme landscapes. Think: steep slopes, hazardous areas, wet areas; that is what it’s designed to do. There are two reasons people buy it. One is safety. Folks who have experienced rollovers with mowers, accidents, near-misses or even in some cases fatalities, will purchase this product and begin doing their business in a safer manner. Other folks know that the work they’re doing is not safe, and they’re doing the work with string-trimmers. This replaces the manual labor or much of it.

3. What other equipment is in the RC Mowers product line?  

Right now, that is our only product. There are three models (TK-60XP, TK-52XP, TK-44E) and the difference between the models is the size of the cut and the horsepower. On the heels of our expertise in robotics, this fall, we are introducing a fully autonomous commercial mower. It’s designed to allow a landscape crew to take a two- or three-person crew down to one, with autonomy.

4. How did the Great American Road Show idea come about?  

It came from the pandemic. When we came into 2020, we were building our dealer network. We were 10 weeks into the year, the pandemic came, and we suddenly couldn’t travel. By the end of 2020, we had built a dealer network, but I hadn’t met anybody in person. Most of them hadn’t seen our entire product line, and most of them hadn’t been trained in person. We had this idea; we’ll get a truck and a trailer, and we’ll go on the road. We’ll teach dealer salespeople our entire product line. Then we thought, well, as long as we’re doing it, let’s invite potential buyers. Last year we had 43 events. It was so successful we doubled-down. We bought two trucks, two trailers, we hired a crew to run it. We have 150, 160 events scheduled through October. And we plan to run all the way to Thanksgiving. We have two crews running and we do three to four events per crew each week, all across the U.S.

5. It’s an exciting time in robotic mowers, but there’s also a lot of competition. How do you feel about the market?  

Let’s look at both sides of it. Our current product, a remote-control mower, it’s a brand-new space. It’s like selling compact track loader equipment in 1969; people don’t know what it is. It’s a niche business and it will never be a billion-dollar industry. That’s one space we’re in. The other space, the commercial mowing space, that’s a multi-billion-dollar space. Now, full disclosure, we’re not in it yet. But there are 380,000 commercial mowers that are going to be sold in 2022. That’s the business that we are going after. How do I feel about the competition? There are some very good companies out there making robotic mowers. Candidly, we welcome the competition. Because the more competition we have, the more credibility there is of what is going on. The reality is, there are hardly any robotic mowers working — I’m talking commercial, not homeowner mowers that mow the same lawn every day — I’m talking about commercial operations with (robotic) machines doing the bulk of the work. There’s hardly any out there. But that’s all going to change in a very short period of time.

Seth Jones

About the Author:

Seth Jones, a graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. Seth has more than 19 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories. He is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.

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