Behind the Scenes: An Inside Look at the Creation of the ZT-X

Gravely® introduces the ZT-X, an all-new zero-turn lawn mower bred from commercial DNA but designed for the homeowner. With fabricated deck designs in either 42-inch or 52-inch sizes, the ZT-X incorporates enhancements typically only found on commercial machines that improve cut quality, durability and ease of use.


We sat down with Ariens Product Manager and Residential LNG Expert Jeralyn Braun, who was involved with the project from start to finish. Keep reading for her insight on how the product was concepted to why the finished product is unlike anything else in it's class.


Gravely: You're a product manager here at Ariens, but can you describe what you do and what your involvement was in the development of the ZT-X?

Braun: Yes! I am the Product Marketing Manager for our residential lawn and garden category. My role within the project was to continually focus on the needs of the consumer providing this insight to the design team.  As a product manager it is my responsibility to understand both our customers as well as the market and drive the direction of the design team to include features on this mower that will be a direct benefit to our customers.

Gravely: Can you tell us about the ZT-X's development?

Braun: As a team, we started with this project approximately two years ago. The residential market began to shift as manufacturers began introducing fabricated decks to their lower-priced residential zero-turn mowers. We wanted to assure that we were providing a product that stood up to our homeowner brand promises, that was also something they could rely on to perform above their expectations for many years. As a team, we began to review our current product line and concluded that we would offer a redesigned product with a focus on cut quality and durability. We also included an enhanced test plan, which was different and more involved than any program that we have ever done for a residential mower. Validating this product's design allowed us the peace of mind, knowing that we had achieved a product that will provide the best experience for our customers.

Gravely: Why is the ZT-X unique to the Gravely residential lineup, and to the market?  

Braun: The ZT-X is unique for us because it allows for us to bring a feature set that is typically only seen on our Gravely commercial mowers down to a mower that is designed to fit the needs of the average homeowner. For many years, a fabricated deck design like the one on the ZT-X was typically only found on commercial mowers, and we are now able to achieve this within our residential line. Our unit is also unique because it goes above and beyond just the ability to offer the fabricated deck. We focused on areas of durability across the complete unit assuring that we are providing a product that the homeowner can rely on for many years. We also wanted to pay close attention to operator comfort, while making the mower easy to use. Features such as the plush comfortable seat, vibration reducing floor mat, enhanced comfort and the dial height of cut selection are new to mowers in this price range.

Gravely: Who is the ideal customer for these machines? What are the unit's unique benefits?

Braun: The ideal customer for this machine is a homeowner with property anywhere from one to three acres, who lives in either an urban or rural setting. The zero-turn concept alone allows for an efficient mowing experience and time saving benefit versus the traditional riding mower, but above and beyond that, we stayed true to our roots and over-built this machine, paying attention to every small detail. We are confident with the design of this new mower, and we've created something that we can stand behind, knowing our customer and dealer base will be astounded.

Gravely® Introduces the ZT-X Zero-Turn Mower

Gravely® introduces the ZT-X, an all-new zero-turn lawn mower bred from commercial DNA but designed for the homeowner. With fabricated deck designs in either 42-inch or 52-inch sizes, the ZT-X incorporates enhancements that improve cut quality, durability and ease of use.

The newly designed, fully fabricated cutting deck is similar to the decks found on Gravely's commercial line of zero-turns, and ​​was designed to deliver an un-matched quality of cut. The wide discharge opening allows for even dispersal of clipping without clumping, while the constant tension deck belt system increases the life of the belt and reduces the need for adjustments.

The fully welded, tubular steel frame sets the ZT-X apart from its competition. While other residential mowers incorporate multi-piece frames, the ZT-X is built on a single piece – welded, not bolted, at every joint for added strength and stability.


The ZT-X was built with operator comfort in mind, integrating features that are easy to use, such as the dial height of cut selection. Other considerations like the plush high-back operator seat with armrests, fully adjustable control arms, foot-operated deck lift, cup holder, storage compartments and advanced vibration isolation were added to increase operator efficiency, while also keeping comfort a high priority.

All models are available with a rugged KOHLER® 7000 Series™ Engine with Smart-Choke™ technology and Pro Filtration package. With Smart-Choke, there's no need to choke the engine or set the throttle position.

"The ZT-X was designed to include several features of the quality, commercial-grade mowers that Gravely is known for, but with the residential homeowner in mind," said Ariens Company Product Marketing Manager Jeralyn Braun. "With the machine's fully-fabricated deck and welded, tubular steel frame, it's built with Gravely toughness to tackle any job, big or small."


The ZT-X was also designed following Gravely's new visual brand language, which showcases crisp, chiseled features, broad, bowed surfaces and prominent protective elements. More of the new Gravely look will be unveiled and detailed in the coming months.

Models start at $4,005 USD MSRP. The unit comes backed with a three-year limited consumer warranty and also includes a five-year limited warranty on the frame and deck shell. For more information visit www.ZTX.Gravely.com.

A full slate of accessories is also available for the ZT-X, including a powered two-bucket bagger, mulching kit, LED headlight kit and full range of tow-behind accessories.

Marty's Turf: How to Run a Successful Landscaping Business in 2015

​Marty's Turf is a monthly column written by Green Industry Consultant and Grunder Landscaping Company CEO Marty Grunder. Have questions for Marty or an idea for an upcoming column? Leave us a comment below. 

​​Hello everyone! I hope your spring is busy and prosperous, ours at Grunder Landscaping Co. sure is. We are seeing activity and sales at a level we have not seen since 2008. For all of us 'growing' companies, its been a nice change after the challenges of the years gone by. Like all businesses, there are changes. I know that three short years ago, most of our efforts and struggles centered on finding the work. Now, we are experiencing the challenge of finding the workers! There is never a dull moment in the green industry. I will tell you though, I know entrepreneurs in all walks of life, and al​​​l of them have challenges and things they have to overcome. A positive, can-do attitude can help you overcome a lot. So, as we venture into the 2015 landscaping season, what can you do to help have the best, most prosperous, stress-free year? I want to share 3 things I see as 'trends'.

Be clear about what a win looks like for your team for 2015.

First of all, any notion you have that your teams are trying to purposely make mistakes and affect your profitability should be cast aside. I am licensed to say that for many of my years, I erroneously looked for someone to blame for all my problems. When I finally realized that the person most responsible for my problems was me, I improved tremendously as a leader. The first job of a leader is to cast vision, and to provide the operation direction. Your people can't help you win, if you don't tell them what a win looks like, so you need to be the painter of that picture. If you are stuck, then just answer this question: What needs to happen between now and the end of the year, for us to have a winning year? If you have a profit level in mind, go backwards and write out what needs to be done to get there. How many clients do you have to serve?  How are you going to serve them? How are you going to attract new ones? Spend some time thinking about your future and get an idea of what you want to accomplish and start sharing your plans with your team.

Be clear about what's in store for your team if you win in 2015.  

The toughest part about running a business is motivating your team. Your team will not be motivated by helping the company's owner buy a new boat or house. Instead, seeing a career path, if they succeed at their current job, will motivate them. Your team will be motivated by getting a raise for helping the company reach a level of profitability not attained before. Your team will be motivated by being given responsibility and by receiving training and education. While free sodas, pizza, and deep sea fishing trips are all nice, what today's modern worker wants, in my opinion, is the feeling of being included. Companies that share information actually are not jeopardizing their future by revealing secrets; they are instead helping their teams better understand where everyone is going and how their contribution affects the outcome. I see companies all the time that have key people leave to start their own business, because us business owners make everything look so easy. Companies that talk about the good and the bad with their teams help their folks understand the whole picture and help them see that running a business isn't easy. It's important that your employees know that together you can be successful, but apart, you might not be. Get your team together and ask them what they like and don't like. Ask them what motivates them. Yep, the tough questions, and you might not like some of the answers. However, if you listen, you can and will improve your organization.

Listen to the Customer.  

When was the last time you asked your clients about their unmet wants? Dale Carnegie said, 'when you take an interest in others, they take an interest in you'. A good example listening to the customer happened to us recently when our Gravely representative, Keith Darding, came to our shop and did some personal one-on-one training with our mowing teams and our fleet manager. How do you think that went over? How important to think we felt? Its spring, but Keith still found the time to come see us and help us, because Keith has vision and that brings us back to the second point, 'Be clear about what a win looks like for your team in 2015'. Keith knows if he keep us happy, and if we know how to use the equipment properly, we'll never buy another brand of mower and we'll make more money. Keith knows that relationships matter. I can't tell you how many landscapers I know that run a particular brand of mower, more so because of the service they received than the mower itself. Think about that, because it can be applied to the clients that we as landscapers work with as well. Listen to that customer. Be 'everything' to a select few, rather than trying to be everything to everyone.  Get to know your clients, have a dialog with them, truly listen and adjust your business accordingly and you will win.

Look, there are a lot of new things going on in the ever-changing landscaping industry.  However, the more things change, the more they stay the same in terms of what you need to do to make your business successful. Being clear about what a win looks like, showing your team what's in it for them if you win, and listening to the customer are all things we can focus on now. Smart business owners are never asleep at the wheel, they are always looking for ways to improve, but they also never loose sight of the basics and focus on those constantly. ​

I'm going to go mow my lawn for therapy now. I push-mow the front yard and my son rides on the glorious Gravely 60" Pro-Turn in the back! 

Gravely® Atlas JSV Wins Landscape and Irrigation’s Twenty for 2015 New Product Award

Landscape and Irrigation announced its selections for the "Twenty for 2015" new product awards this week, and the Gravely Atlas JSV took home the prize in the UTV category.

 

The Twenty for 2015 new product awards recognize products in the commercial landscape and irrigation markets. Products were judged by the Green Media editorial staff based on innovation, marketability and application within the market.

"Development plans began on the JSV with our past experience and involvement in the UTV category," said Director of the Gravely Brand Bill Engler. "We understood that a market exists for a jobsite-specific vehicle that fits the needs of the contractor, so we ceased the production of our UTV, the Trekker, and decided to partner with an OEM to bring together their expertise of the UTV industry and our knowledge of the needs of the landscaping industry. The partnership allowed us to develop the ultimate work vehicle."​

 

The Atlas JSV was launched on Sept. 22, 2014, with contractors getting their first look at the vehicle during the 2014 GIE + Expo in Louisville, K.Y. that October.

"Through our experience with our previous UTV, our customers were telling us they needed a vehicle to hold up the rigors of a landscape contractor," Engler added. "That led us to perform market study groups all over the country. We learned that there are many vehicles that can do work, but they are also trying to be everything to everyone. No one had a vehicle specifically designed and targeted to the jobsite." ​

Throughout development with the Polaris team, Gravely was able to do just that, and has successfully designed a vehicle that can support landscape contractors who work all day, every day. The Atlas MX-18 JobBox sets it apart. The 48.2-inch by 57-inch by 11.4-inch box can accommodate a standard pallet with the tailgate closed and has a capacity of 1,250 pounds. The machine also has a 1,900-pound payload and a 2,000-pound towing capacity. In addition, it's rugged exterior with dual headlights and ample interior, with seating room for three or six adults, makes it the perfect complement to any jobsite.

Interested in learning more? Visit www.gravelyatlas.com to see our vehicle's specs and request a demo.

Landscape and Irrigation remains the independent voice of the industries for which it is named, and reaches decision makers throughout the landscape and irrigation markets - including contractors, landscape architects, professional grounds managers, and irrigation and water management companies. Landscape and Irrigation is published by Green Media, a division of EPG Media and Specialty Information, Plymouth, Minn. For more information, visit www.landscapeirrigation.com.

Gravely® Landscapes and Beautifies Harbor House Domestic Abuse Shelter as part of NALP Day of Service

National grassroots event organizes thousands in landscaping industry for day of volunteering

In celebration of Earth Day, Gravely® took part in the National Association of Landscape Professionals' (NALP) Day of Service Event.

Ariens Company employees, in partnership with Vande Hey Landscaping, worked to improve the curb appeal of the Harbor House in Appleton, Wis. During the event, volunteers from both companies volunteered by spreading mulch, planting trees and flowers and pulling weeds. More than $6,500 in materials and labor was donated.

NALP's Day of Service event is a grassroots event that gives professionals in the landscape industry an opportunity to plan, organize, and carry-out volunteer service projects that benefit their communities. In 2014, approximately 89 projects were completed in 24 states, and more than 2,200 volunteers participated. Over $400,000 in time and services was donated to local communities.

"This project was very important to us as members of the green industry, and we were excited to be able to celebrate Earth Day while helping out a great local organization, Harbor House Domestic Abuse Services," said Ariens Company Director of Gravely Brand Bill Engler. "Beautifying the area and the community is important for the neighborhood as well as the people that live here."

For more information, and to see a map of other NALP Day of Service projects that took place across the country, visit: https://www.planetdayofservice.org/. Videos and photos from last year's event can be found on Flickr and YouTube.

Established in 1984 as a program of the Outagamie County Department of Human Services, Harbor House Domestic Abuse Programs began as a grassroots organization offering a safe shelter and basic crisis services to women and children hurt by domestic abuse. Today, the Harbor House is an integrated and supportive community, surrounding women and children with a comprehensive range of program options.

The building is perched alongside a long road, making it the perfect subject for a landscaping renovation. Employees from the Ariens Company re-landscaped three areas along the building's façade over a span of six hours.