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Keep on Rockin’: Small equipment for big jobs

August 11, 2021 -  By
Backyard access: DeHamer Landscaping relies on compact equipment to get into backyards and other tight spaces for jobs such as installing retaining walls (Photo: Marvin Shaouni).

Backyard access: DeHamer Landscaping relies on compact equipment to get into backyards and other tight spaces for jobs such as installing retaining walls (Photo: Marvin Shaouni).

In the landscape world, mini skid-steers and compact track loaders are hot, but manufacturers say that growth isn’t coming at the expense of larger options

Wade Vugteveen almost never gets to choose between sending a large track loader or a mini skid-steer to a job site. The head of operations for DeHamer Landscaping, Grandville, Mich., says with most jobs, only one tool will do.

“We’re often in really tight spaces, moving through backyard gates or between houses,” Vugteveen says. “With smaller machines, it’s easier to use them when you’re on-site and easier to get them on the trailer to the site. Usually, we can’t bring anything else. It’s either a compact machine or hand tools.”

Wade Vugteveen, DeHamer Landscaping

Wade Vugteveen, DeHamer Landscaping

Landscape companies and equipment manufacturers say demand for smaller equipment, such as ride-on compact track loaders and stand-on mini skid-steers, has grown rapidly for more than a decade. Such machines were especially useful during pandemic lockdowns as many homebound people opted to improve landscaping or build outdoor living areas.

However, few see a trend of small machines replacing their big brothers. Rather, they say, the boom in minis comes from more products hitting the market for people who historically used few pieces of power equipment.

“They’re not just niche products,” says Matt Hutchinson, Vermeer’s product manager for tree care, rental and landscape equipment. “It’s its own market and industry with many competitors and different classes of machines to do different types of work.”

Hutchinson and Luke Gribble, solutions marketing manager for John Deere Construction and Forestry, say the boom in small products matches rising sales for medium- and large-scale construction equipment. Rather than displacing larger machines, compact track loaders and mini skid-steers could be giving small companies that don’t have the resources to buy larger, more expensive machines a taste of horsepower — something that could lead to bigger tools in the future.

Robert Schoenberger

About the Author:

Robert Schoenberger is Landscape Management's senior editor. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from University of Houston. He has worked in magazines and newspapers since the late 1990s. Robert can be reached at rschoenberger@northcoastmedia.net.

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