Toro Co. has created one hybrid machine for all seasons that promises to let customers mow grass in the summer, blow leaves in the fall and plow away snow in the winter.
One year after its $227 million acquisition of the Boss line of snowplow equipment, Toro unleashed the GrandStand Multi Force machine with a quickly interchangeable snowplow, mowing deck and other parts.
"The GrandStand Multi Force gives our customers a way to do more with one machine, instead of needing dedicated equipment for each season," said Toro senior marketing manager Ross Hawley. "The result is added equipment utilization and higher productivity. This is rather exciting."
Toro introduced the hybrid, which it says is different from anything else on the market, to favorable reviews at last month's Green Industry & Equipment Expo in Kentucky, the largest U.S. trade show for outdoor equipment and landscaping products.
Toro showcased several lines of products at the show, but the reaction proved strongest for the GrandStand Multi Force. One contractor ordered a machine right at the trade show so he could fulfill a new contract to clear snow off 30 sidewalks next winter. Other contractors said they liked what they saw and expect it to save them money and time down the road.
Toro in the spring will begin selling two models of the new beast. The basic machine comes with a mowing deck available in either 52- or 60-inch widths. Each attachment will cost extra. Options include a 60-inch snowplow, power boom, large debris blower and leaf baggers.
The basic Multi Force machine has a suggested retail price of $11,000 to $13,000. Prices for attachments are yet to be determined, officials said.
Toro plans to market the new product to professional landscapers and groundskeepers who often use one fleet of lawn mowers for summer and then separate vehicles or machines with snowplow attachments in the winter.
Now a single machine with multiple attachments can do the same jobs, offering crews "versatility" and storage solutions, said Toro spokesman Branden Happel.
Todd Pugh, owner of Enviroscapes landscaping service in Louisville, Ohio, wants a GrandStand Multi Force after seeing it at the Kentucky trade show. Pugh's 175 workers run 70 Toro lawn mowers that get stored for five or six months every year. When spring comes, he has to spend money getting the machines thawed out and their engines working again. His winter requires a mix of trucks, ATVs and skid-steer loaders with plow attachments to remove snow for corporate clients.
"So the Multi Force eliminates having to have separate pieces of equipment for the summer and winter. Now you'd have just one. I think this product will revolutionize the stand-on mower world," Pugh said.
Toro is hoping universities, apartment complexes, and government and corporate campuses look to the Multi Force as they update their maintenance fleets, Hawley said.
Toro was developing the Multi Force before Toro bought the Boss snowplow line one year ago. Afterward, Boss workers helped Toro design multiple features including one so its new snowplows could rise over hidden objects without jostling the operator standing on the back of the machine.
"Designing when and how that plow blade trips over an obstacle was a critical part of the collaboration" between the Boss and Toro engineers, Hawley said.