The Caterpillar range of Next Generation mini hydraulic excavators has been expanded with the addition of six new models in the 7-to-10-ton category.  

The new-model lineup includes the 307.5, a standard tail swing model with a fixed boom; 308 CR, a compact radius model with a swing boom; 308 CR VAB, featuring a variable angle (two-piece) swing boom; 309 CR, a new model in the mini range featuring a compact radius, swing boom, and high flow auxiliary hydraulics; 309 CR VAB, which expands the 309 CR's capability with a variable angle boom; and 310, also new to the range, featuring a fixed boom, standard tail swing, and twin blade cylinders for handling heavy-duty dozing chores.

The new models range in maximum operating weight from 18,152 to 22,447 pounds (8 233 to 10 182 kg) and in standard dig depths from 13 feet 5 inches to 17 feet (4 107 to 5 174 mm). Three models—307.5, 308 CR, and 309 CR—are available with a long-stick option that increases dig depth by approximately 22 inches (560 mm). The variable angle boom, available with the 308 CR VAB and 309 CR VAB, enhances digging capability in congested work areas. Powering the 307.5 is the Cat C2.4 turbo diesel engine rated at 55.9 net horsepower (41.7 kW); the five larger models use the Cat C3.3 diesel engine rated at 70.3 net horsepower (52.4 kW).

The design of Cat Next Generation mini excavators emphasizes operator comfort, convenience, and safety. The six new models are fitted with cabs, sealed and pressurized to ensure a clean environment, and featuring a redesigned heating/ventilating/air conditioning system that ensures all-weather climate control.

The new Caterpillar 903D, compared with its 903C2 predecessor, features a 25 percent increase in both lifting capacity and travel speed, so customers are able to do more, faster. Whether lifting a heavy pallet or sod or traveling from field to farm, the 903D is up to the task. With new optional features, such as creep control, throttle lock and work tool electrical harness, the 903D has the ability to run any number of tools.

Available with either an open or enclosed cab, the 903D operator's station features a refined ergonomic design with a new multi-function joystick that provides fingertip control of the standard third-function hydraulic system. Whether lifting light material into a hopper or loading heavy pallets onto a truck, the choice of standard-lift or high-lift boom arms increase the 903D's ability to work efficiently in a wide range of applications, with buckets ranging in capacity from 0.8 to 1.3 yd3 (0.6 to 1.0 m3), forks, or a selection of powered and non-powered work tools.

Last year, Caterpillar announced the introduction of its first-ever Cat utility vehicles. To expand that offering, the product line now includes the gasoline-powered Cat CUV85 and diesel-powered CUV105 D. The CUV85 and CUV105 D both feature a spacious second row to accommodate a total of five people. Caterpillar gathered extensive customer and dealer input to build a UTV that delivers the unrivaled combination of durability, comfort and maintenance simplicity. Rigorous vehicle testing ensures both utility vehicles meet the superior quality and reliability customers expect from Caterpillar.

The CUV85 and CUV105 D feature a rugged steel cargo bed and offer 1,000-lb (454-kg) total rear cargo capacity and 2,000-lb (907-kg) towing capacity for outstanding performance in a variety of applications. These Cat UTVs deliver a premium experience at a competitive price. 

Caterpillar side dishcarge buckets - designed for use with skid steer loaders, multi-terrain loaders, compact track loaders, and compact wheel loaders - collect and transport loose materials such as sawdust, sand, mulch, and topsoil and then discharge these materials via a belt-type conveyor from adjustable openings (doors) on either side of the bucket. A rotating agitator works to keep material flowing to the conveyor. Adjusting conveyor speed and door openings controls the volume of material discharged and the area covered. Features of the Cat Side Discharge Bucket suit this attachment for varied application, including agriculture, construction, landscaping, road maintenance, and material handling.

Briggs & Stratton – which has recently acquired companies like Ferris, Billy Goat, InfoHub and Snapper – revealed what the company and its affiliates have worked on since last October.

“Briggs & Stratton Corporation and its family of brands continue to innovate with the goal of making work easier for end users; whether performing routine lawn maintenance at home or tackling the toughest jobs as part of a landscaping business,” CEO and president Todd Teske said. “As Briggs & Stratton celebrates its 110th anniversary year, the innovations featured at this year’s show are even more meaningful as we reflect on where it all began in 1908 and how significantly the business has transformed and will continue to transform long into the future.”

Ferris showed it’s expanding beyond cutting with its brand new ISX800 zero-turn commercial mowers and a new lineup of stand-on mowers by Snapper Pro. The newest mower uses its patent-pending ForeFront Suspension System, which utilizes four upper and lower control rods that ensure the front caster bearing remains vertical through the full range of travel for added rider comfort.

Billy Goat introduced its Hurricane X3 and Z3 stand-on blowers, which are ideal for commercial landscapers working on large properties. Their Joystick Deflector Controls provide quick adjustment of airflow from left, right or forward directions, eliminating the need to blow in reverse, and it blows air quietly, even at its top speeds of 165 miles per hour. The company also debuted its Next Gen 25 In PLUGGR aerator, capable of aerating roughly 42,500 square feet of land in a single pass.

Snapper Pro released two new stand-on mower models – the SS100 and SS200. The mowers are built to handle high mowing speeds in wide open areas and have the patent-pending Oil Guard systems to reduce contractor expenditures on oil by what the company estimates at 60 percent.

A company’s online presence isn’t just about posting on social media – Jack Jostes said it’s about crafting a brand that represents an organization’s core values and what sets them apart from the competition.

Jostes, an author and president and CEO of marketing consulting business Ramblin Jackson, believes there’s a major problem in the industry: Random guys in pickup trucks are lowballing potential customers and taking away business from landscapers. Clients are falling for the lower prices because they need reasons to trust landscaping businesses and need convenience. During his presentation at LANDSCAPES 2018, Jostes said Google searches on smartphones for “landscaping near me” have quadrupled in the last four years.

Clients just want to know their needs will be taken care of, Jostes said. Building that trust online requires deliberate steps toward building a modern online brand.

“All sales are motivated by pain or pleasure, and it’s way easier to sell against pain than it is pleasure,” Jostes said. “The job of your branding is really to relieve these people’s fears so they feel confident in you.”

There are some easy immediate steps to take to build trust with clients. First, answer the phone – and if you don’t, call back as soon as possible. Customers search landscaping businesses online and call the phone numbers that pop up, so fielding those calls is essential. If your company is particularly swamped, Jostes recommends a service called CallRuby, which permits live receptionists to answer the phones on behalf of your company.

“If somebody else answers the phone and books the appointment, they’re like 10 times more likely to get the sale than the contractor who gets back with them a day or two or a week later,” Jostes said.

In terms of building an online presence for recruiting clients and new employees, Jostes said companies should first work on building their brand before developing their website, SEO posts, and social media presences. Jostes said most every company will tell clients that they stand for integrity and craftsmanship, but these buzzwords only go so far now. Jostes said companies should dig deep to define a company’s true mission and determine what makes them different from competitors. Figure out what your core values are, Jostes said, and let them be known.

Jostes said logos matter: Clients fear landscapers are just shady, but logos and website design can prove to a potential customer that your company does work worth the price clients pay. Jostes also recommends making websites responsive across all devices and inspire people to trust your company with lively photography of your past projects and your employees.

There’s no foolproof method to determine how much equipment landscape companies need, but Ed Schultheis, owner of business support company ThruPutNow, says there are some common questions to consider.

“Every company is just a little bit different, so there is just no set one way to determine how much equipment one needs,” Schultheis said at GIE+EXPO, “but there is a method to evaluate, ‘How do I make this decision that will be a significant expense to the company?’”

Company owners must consider the total real cost of any purchase, which includes direct costs that involve numbers and indirect costs that are more abstract. For instance, a direct cost might include the price paid to buy the equipment, licensing and registration, insurance on the item and taxes. Meanwhile, there are indirect costs with each piece of equipment, such as the time spent training employees, potential labor inefficiencies, theft potential and safety.

Schultheis says companies need to take an accurate inventory of their preexisting equipment before responsibly purchasing anything else. Identifying those assets is one thing, but he also recommends that companies determine how they keep track of their equipment as well. For example, is there a numbering system for your trucks? He also says diving deep into targeting your customer base is important – maybe it’s unnecessary to buy the expensive equipment meant for commercial landscapers if your company primarily works residential jobs.

Perhaps above all, Schultheis says companies should find out where the nearest dealers are for the equipment they’re about to buy and decide if they’re particularly helpful.

“If you have a great piece of equipment, but you don’t have a really good dealer to support, I don’t care how good your equipment is, you’re going to [struggle],” he says. “There are lots of good shiny toys out there, but if you don’t have someone close by to help you with the challenges you’re going to have at some point, it’s a problem.”

Schultheis says this preliminary research helps eliminate emotion from the decision-making process. If company owners have hard data to support their choices to buy or not buy, then there’s a smaller chance the purchase will be impulsive and unproductive. He says crew leaders will almost always recommend the equipment that will make their job easier and get them home early, but company owners need to evaluate the overall cost and support available for their equipment before purchasing.

The educational effort is aimed at making consumers aware that outdoor equipment cannot run on E15 fuel.

On Thursday, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute and the National Marine Manufacturers Association launched “Protect Your Power,” a consumer education program in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement last week intending to expand the sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15) to year-round. Outdoor power equipment, UTVs, ATVs, boats, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and other small engine equipment are not designed, built or warranted to run on higher ethanol fuel blends, such as E15.

“Fuels containing more than 10 percent ethanol can damage or destroy outdoor power equipment and other small engines,” said Kris Kiser, OPEI president and CEO. “Fueling correctly – with E10 or less gas – is the best way to protect your outdoor power equipment and keep it running strong, so it will be there for you when you need it. The last thing you want is for your generator to not work during a storm, your chainsaw not to start when you need to remove fallen trees and limbs, or other equipment to fail when a job needs to get done. Read your owner’s manuals for guidance on correct fueling for any equipment or small engine product. Don’t just choose on price. Protect your power.”

Thom Dammrich, president of NMMA, a trade organization for the North American recreational boating industry, said, “Most consumers are unaware that fuel with ethanol blends exceeding 10 percent can destroy small engines, including those in boats. Instead, they are blindsided when they show up for an engine repair – or worse, become stranded on the water – to find out they’ve been using the wrong fuel and voided their warranty. Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s proposed E15 sales expansion will only add to this problem.”

Research supports the need for more consumer education to protect equipment from mis-fueling, Kiser said. According to annual research conducted by OPEI with the Harris Poll, an ever-increasing number of outdoor power equipment owners are using the wrong type of fuel in their products. In 2018, 11percent of consumers reported using E15, E30, E50, or E85 to fuel their equipment, up from 7 percent in 2015. One in five Americans (20 percent) think it is legal to put gasoline with an ethanol content higher than 10 percent into engines.

“Remember, as the fuels marketplace has changed, you can no longer count on being able to put the same fuel in your mower, generator, chainsaw, trimmer or other equipment that you also use in your car or truck,” said Kiser. “Unfortunately, the small warning stickers placed on fuel pumps are not enough to prevent mis-fueling and do little to educate consumers. Consumers need to be vigilant year-round when it comes to fueling and remember that E10 or less is always best for outdoor power equipment.”

1.5 Ton Mini Loader

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