Trends from 2016 GIE+EXPO

December 26, 2016 -  By

showfloor-overview-7852We look at what was hot in equipment at the industry’s largest trade show.

The 2016 GIE+EXPO and Hardscape North America, held Oct. 19-21 in Louisville, Ky., was the biggest showcase of green industry best practices and products ever assembled. More than 900 exhibitors showed off their offerings to a diverse crowd of more than 22,600 corporate big wigs, equipment dealers, veteran landscapers and lawn mowing newbies. Here are the hottest equipment trends we saw.

Batteries on the rise

A crowd of journalists and attendees gathered around the Greenworks Commercial booth intently listening to a press conference. The company, which had just added three new zero-turns to its line of 82-volt-battery-powered equipment, announced a partnership with SiteOne Landscape Supply, formerly John Deere Landscapes, the largest and ever-growing landscape industry distributor.

“For years, we’ve relied on noisy, smelly two- and four-stroke equipment, but now, we’re seeing a trend that’s forcing contractors to look at alternatives,” says Jeff Domenick, category manager for SiteOne. “Recently, we’ve had a surprising number of customers say they have contracts that require them to use electric or battery-powered equipment.”

But even manufacturers that aren’t battery-specific are upping their games. Husqvarna expanded its battery line with two pole saws and a trimmer, and American Landmaster touted its new 48-volt LandStar LS48V UTV, which can tow 1,100 pounds. Stihl, DeWalt and Oregon had their battery-powered options on hand and newcomers like LERA expanded their booth space.

The benefits, including lower fuel costs over time, are discussed at-length in our Battery-Powered Equipment Guide on page BP3. Experts say an industry challenged with regulations, ordinances and the occasional negative perception may benefit from quieter, emission-free equipment—especially if there are no performance costs.

“When I first started using it, the line was a lower battery power and not as powerful; it was more residential,” says Chris Lambton, HGTV star, Greenworks spokesman and co-owner of E. Lambton Landscaping in Dennis, Mass. “Now, they’re longer lasting and you get more power. I’m using it five days a week for my commercial accounts.”

Lower maintenance, less downtime

Another trend at the show was a push towards lower-maintenance equipment, designed to avoid downtime.

The technology came in all shapes and sizes. Michelin Tweel Technologies expanded its X Tweel line with a new airless radial tire-wheel for zero-turn mowers. The flat-free tire eliminates downtime from punctures and is maintenance-free because it eliminates the need to maintain air pressure. John Deere focused on its slew of NeverStop program offerings, including leasing, loaners, parts and rewards, and Fischer Barton released its new LaserEdge lawn mower blades, which sharpen as they mow and will never need sharpened, the company says.

Briggs & Stratton engine brand Vanguard rolled out its latest addition. The Oil Guard System, a factory-installed add-on that continuously exchanges oil between the engine and a large, external oil reservoir, is designed to protect the engine from thermal breakdown and take oil change intervals from 100 miles to 500 miles. The company says it saves users up to 60 percent by decreasing costs from labor, filter replacements and downtime. Plus, when the time comes to change the oil, it’s toolless and drains in about five minutes.

“We think the delivery of productivity and finding ways to reduce downtime and cost of ownership are going to be a continuing trend and something we’re really focused on in the coming season,” says Marketing Manager Jim Cross.

Photo: GIE+EXPO

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About the Author:

Dillon Stewart graduated from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, earning a Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism with specializations in business and political science. Stewart is a former associate editor of LM.

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