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Contractors share their handheld equipment must-haves

August 2, 2021 -  By
Stihl battery-powered shears (Photo: Stihl)

Lots of pros Jeff Cartwright uses Stihl’s battery-powered shears due to their versatility and battery life. (Photo: Stihl)

Many contractors have a trusty tool they can rely on to get the job done. Take, for example, the three must-have pieces of handheld equipment the three owners we spoke to can’t live without.

Do double duty

The one piece of handheld equipment Jeff Cartwright, owner of Cartwright Landscaping in Richmond, Va., uses the most is the Stihl HSA 26 battery-powered shears.

“What I like about it and why it’s my favorite is there are so many different ways to use it,” he says.

His company provides design/build, installation maintenance, irrigation, tree removal, grading, clearing, lighting, drainage and tree removal services to a 95 percent residential and 5 percent commercial clientele. The company does $1.5 million in annual revenue.

The trimmer comes with a shrub cutter and grass trimmer attachment, and he uses both on his job site quality assurance checks.

“The ergonomics are great. It’s an extension of your hand,” he says. “You can use it with one hand because it’s light, using the other hand to grab stuff or to push stuff out of the way — like grabbing decorative grasses to get the dead foliage growth off so new growth can come in.”

When fully charged, it has a run time of about 80 minutes with the shrub cutter and about 120 minutes with the grass trimmer, he says.

“With a battery, you don’t have to mix oil and gas, and there are no pollutants,” he says. “You have the power, but it’s quiet, so you can use it early or late without disturbing anyone. We use them daily on job sites.”

Cut labor

For Josh Currivan, owner of Currivan Green Co. in Andover, Mass., his must-have product is the Echo PPT-2620 power pruner and pole saw with a looped handle. His company has an annual revenue of $425,000 and offers hardscape and landscape services to 60 percent residential and 40 percent commercial clients.

Before switching to the power pruner and pole saw three years ago, his crews either pruned by standing on a ladder with a small chainsaw or by using manual pruners.

“If you prune trees or shape or cut suckers off branches, the trimmer is going to cut your labor time in half,” Currivan says. “It paid for itself within two, one-hour jobs in the beginning when I first got it. We still charge the same amount of labor, so the return on investment is definitely there.”

He currently has two of the power pruners and says they’ve been durable and efficient. “It cuts like a hot knife in butter if you keep it maintained,” Currivan says.

Tight spots

Blowers are the go-to products for Steven Lowe, owner of Steven’s Lawn Care of the New River Valley in Shawsville, Va. He uses Stihl’s gas-powered blowers, including the handheld residential-grade BG 55, which has been discontinued, and BG 56 models and BR 700 backpack blowers. He rotates the equipment as it wears out, purchasing five to six new blowers each year.

His company has an annual revenue of $750,000 and services 70 percent residential and 30 percent commercial properties. It provides lawn maintenance, pruning and lawn care services.
Lowe uses the blowers for cleanup after mowing and pruning, around stone mulch beds and on leaves in the fall. Crews also have used them to apply insecticides for mosquito control and on fungicide applications to plants.

“The blowers are user friendly, so a new hire can figure out how to start one,” he says. “They get quieter every year a new model comes out, which helps with noise restrictions.”

The BR 700 backpack blower carries a collapsible tube, making it easier for his operators to get around tight areas. They also come with a semi-automatic choke and throttle trigger lock with a built-in momentary stop switch.

“You can squeeze the trigger, and it goes to the idle position,” he says. “You don’t have to turn it off.”

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor. She can be reached at swebb@northcoastmedia.net.

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