Kansas has long been a major influencer in the development and growth of commercial mowing, due in part to the prominent agricultural economy found throughout the state. In fact, one of the first commercial zero-turn mowers was developed right here in Kansas. It is also home to multiple manufacturing companies that continue to be pioneers in mowing technology – Excel Industries, Walker Mowers, Grasshopper, and Dixon – who all have roots in the state of Kansas.
The zero-turn mower was initially developed and innovated by those with a strong knowledge of farm machinery and other agricultural components. Now, thanks to advancements in engineering and manufacturing, the innovation process has become much more efficient and sophisticated.
Since then, many businesses have begun to operate within the commercial mowing business. Here at Kansas Golf and Turf, we are a family owned business that started over 25 years ago with the purchase of Kansas Mini Power Vehicles, an E-Z-GO golf car dealership. A few years later, we added outdoor power equipment to our inventory and a year after that we purchased our competitor, Prestige Golf Cars. Since then, we have continued to add products from Hustler, Ariens, Exmark, Gravely, and Cushman to our inventory and expanded our locations in order to better serve our customers.
Let’s go back to 1949 in the town of Warrensburg, Missouri, where a man by the name of Max Swisher invented the first self-propelled rotary lawn mower, which he named the “Ride King”. The machine had three wheels – one in the front and two in the back. The front wheel was used as the drive wheel, which was also able to turn a full 360 degrees. This was the starting block for the future of zero-turn mowers.
Now, fast forward to 1963. A man by the name of John Regier, who was an employee at the Hesston Corporation – a company that manufactured farm and agricultural equipment – had recently worked on a piece of farm equipment called a swather. While studying the engineering of the swather machine and how the belts and pulleys allowed for counter rotation, an idea came to him. He asked himself, “What if I can use this same concept with lawnmowers, so that we can easily navigate around all the twists and turns and irregularities in both residential and commercial lawns?” After that, the rest was history.
Regier was able to successfully engineer a mower that could circle a flagpole and reverse directions, all with a turning radius of zero. It was made with a combination of mower parts and farm machinery. Once people started to take notice of this new mower concept, he began to sell a few, but not nearly as many as he had hoped. Eventually, he sold the patent to Hesston Corporation, later to become Excel Industries (the parent company of Hustler Turf), and from there it took off. Regier’s mower was later called the Hustler. The first model was the Hustler 36, which came with a price tag of $1,000. This was considered to be a relatively hefty price back in those days. So, because of this, the Hesston Corporation began to focus on manufacturing larger machines for commercial and industrial markets.
Since then, Hustler has become one of the leading brands of outdoor power equipment across the world. The Hustler brand has begun to signify innovation, performance, dependability, power, and a pride in customer care and quality experience. Hustler now has more than 1,600 dealers nationwide and over 30 distributors worldwide!
There are several different features to choose from when it comes to zero-turn mowers. Some offer electronic fuel injections, which offer better fuel efficiency; others may include Roller Protection Systems that help to provide driver safety. Other safety features include seatbelts and improved operator control. Improvements also continue to be made in the efficiency of the mowers by increasing the potential ground speed through the use of suspension.
Some of the most important features to be aware of when selecting a zero-turn mower are the decks. Your options include both front-mount decks and mid-mount decks.
Front-mount tends to have better weight distribution than their mid-mount counterparts. There is less weight on the front wheels of the front-mount, which offers better traction and handling, especially when going downhill. Because there is less weight on the front wheels, the mower will not smash the grass before cutting. It also tends to offer a sharper steering response and less slipping of the drive wheels. Front-mount decks move independently from the tractor itself, which allows the deck to “float” and better follow contours, as opposed to mid-mounts. It is a great option for trimming and allows for better visibility for that, due to the position of the seat. Front-mounts are also ideal for those needing to mount other attachments. Its tilt-up feature allows for easy maintenance and cleaning.
The mid-mount mowers are more popular than front-mounts among landscape contractors.
Mid-mount mowers are typically shorter than front-mounts, which saves on storage and trailer space. Mid-mount decks are located closer to the turning axis, which makes it easier for them to maneuver tight turns and work in a circular fashion. They also provide a faster ground speed than front-mounts, which increases productivity.
When using a zero-turn mower, do not mow on wet turf. The weight of the tractor can damage the lawn if it is wet. It is best to use a push mower in these situations.
Pay attention to your speed. Operating at too high of a speed can damage the lawn and ruin your cut pattern. For rougher terrains, lower your speed. Remember, if the mower is bouncing, you won’t be left with an even and smooth cut!
Finally, some training is recommended, especially if you’re operating a landscaping business. Downhill slopes, if not properly maneuvered, can cause the mower’s wheels to lose traction and topple, which can cause serious injury to the driver. These hazards alone are reason enough to consider some training before using a zero-turn mower. After all, you definitely don’t want to cause damage to a client’s lawn or to yourself!
A consistent and attentive maintenance program is key to getting the most out of your zero-turn mower. Air filter, oil filter, and oil changes should be done on a monthly basis, while oil pressure checks should be done daily. A thorough inspection should also be conducted on your mower at the end of every season.
You should also be conscious as to the pulling limitations of your mower so as not to cause any damage to it in those regards. Transmissions on smaller mowers typically cannot handle loads heavier than 180 lbs. Ignoring these limitations can cause significant damage to your transmission, resulting in costly repairs.
Finally, zero-turn mowers perform best on lawns that are regularly mowed. Attempting to mow through tall growths can cause serious damage to the mower’s performance. Lawns that have been mowed one or twice a week are the best option for these types of machines.
Hustler is one of the best zero-turn mowers on the market. Here are just a few reasons why:
No matter the job, we’ve got the perfect zero-turn mower for you! We offer both residential-grade and commercial-grade Hustler mowers that are sure to exceed all of you expectations. Visit our website to check out our inventory or pay us a visit to test out one of our first-class zero-turn mowers!
Give us a call today for all of your residential and commercial mowing needs!