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FocusOn – Global Insights Meet Pat Cappucci, President and Chief Operating Officer of Schiller Grounds Care, Inc.

Original source: The FocusOn Group Inc

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 8.27.04 AM.png FocusOn – Global Insights - special reports on the industry’s developing technology as well as interviews with the top executives of manufacturers and end users of equipment for the industries served by FocusOn publications.

In this edition, we feature an interview with Pat Cappucci, President and Chief Operating Officer of Schiller Grounds Care, Inc.

Mr. Cappucci has been the COO of Schiller Grounds Care, Inc. for 12 years after serving in senior executive positions with the Toro, Lawn Boy and 3M. He graduated Summa Cum Laude in Mechanical Engineering at Marquette University in 1985 and then received an MBA from the Carlson School of Management of the University of Minnesota.

Schiller Grounds Care, Inc. currently operates manufacturing facilities in the U.S. located in Johnson Creek, WI and at the corporate headquarters in Southampton, PA. The company also operates internationally from its offices in Stockport, England and in Marly, France. The company is the manufacturer of the Classen, Little Wonder, Mantis, BOB-CAT, Ryan and Steiner brands of commercial grounds care equipment.

First of all, we appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. It is always interesting when we can spend time with an industry veteran. With your 20 years of experience in this industry, you have “participated” in an industry that has had its share of challenges.

When you took over the reins at Schiller Grounds Care after 10 years with Toro and Lawn Boy, what did you see as the number one challenge and (maybe one of the same) greatest opportunity for the company?

PC, “Schiller had great brands with a lot of history, but they had been under-invested over the prior several years.

“I saw a significant opportunity to utilize this strong base equity and re-invest in the products, brands and organization to better serve the contractor community and grow the business.”

The battery powered outdoor power equipment market is growing quickly but, according to some of the major players in the commercial field, the acceptance is a bit slower than expected. However, 65% of our survey respondents expect all of their commercial powered products fleet to eventually be battery powered. The survey told us that 15% are already planning to buy a battery powered zero turn this year! Are there commercial grade battery powered products that we can expect to see from Schiller Grounds Care’s in the next year or two?

PC, “We are starting to offer battery products in our consumer product range, namely Mantis, and agree with the position of greater adoption as technology improves to deliver the productivity and performance that contractors demand. The improvements over the last few years have been amazing.

“We will look to apply battery technology as that performance threshold approaches for the commercial market for the products that we produce.”

The rental market is booming, and the American Rental Association is forecasting rental revenues in North America to surpass $61.3 billion in 2019, including $55.8 billion in the United States and $5.3 billion in Canada, up 5.0 percent compared to 2018. In the U.S., equipment and event rental revenue is expected to grow another 4.2 percent in 2020, 4.3 percent in 2021 and 4.7 percent in 2022 to reach $63.5 billion.

With the wide range of high quality “rental right” products in the Schiller Grounds Care’s portfolio, and being a major supplier already to the rental trade, how are you working to further maximize this growth to the benefit of your company? (Specialists servicing just the rental trade? Special programs for rental dealers? Service Training? New products?)

PC, “The Rental trade is a key focus for Schiller already. We have a dedicated team that focuses on the rental channel and rental customers exclusively. Our goal is to deliver industry leading ROI to rental through exceptional product performance and reliability, as well as systems and parts support that are all geared to the success of our rental customers.

“We also strive to provide products with user-friendly controls and easy operation, giving more confidence to the rental use. In the end, if our rental dealers are successful using our products and services to maximize their profitability and return on their investments, it is a win-win for everyone.”

What Schiller Grounds Care product do you think is not yet meeting its potential as a rental item and one you see as a high rental income generating model once the dealers buy in?

PC, “In markets where turf aeration is common, I would say that stand-on aerators are still in the early adoption phase. While it is a little more challenging to quickly achieve a strong ROI given the higher acquisition cost of the equipment, stand-on aerators dramatically improve productivity for contractors.

"So, for landscape contractors who do not want to invest in owning their own equipment in this category, rental is a very good option. This is translating into more opportunity for rental dealers.”

In our discussions with manufacturers across North America, the lack of qualified workers available workers is the number one problem. As one of the larger employers in some of the areas where Schiller Grounds Care’s factories are located, how difficult is it to find additional qualified people to work at your companies?

PC, “It has become a real issue, especially in skilled trades and with direct labor. We are now focusing more efforts on employee engagement and retention programs as well as stronger recruiting efforts and outreach programs to combat the issue.”

Outside of North America, which market has the greatest growth potential for Schiller Grounds Care’s and its brands?

PC, “We have experienced the most growth in countries that have a significant amount of maintained turf, coupled with stronger economies. Accordingly, we have experienced significant growth in Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Western Europe. Additionally, we are seeing new growth in Turkey, South America and parts of Eastern Europe as those economies strengthen.”

Schiller Grounds Care’s always has an exciting presence at GIE+EXPO and this past year was certainly no exception. Our survey shows a high percentage of show attendees took the time to visit your booth and a healthy number plan to buy as well. (Of the 1946 attendees answering this part of the survey, 28.1% said they visited the Bob-Cat mowers and 5% said they will consider buying in 2019 / Classen 24.7% and 8.6% / Little Wonder 46.1% and 9.9% / Ryan 31.3% and 6.5% / Steiner 15.4% and 0.9% / Is GIE+EXPO the most important show of the year for Schiller Grounds Care’s and if so, why?

PC, “We have several important shows throughout the year given the niche nature of our brands. However, GIE+EXPO is the one show that is critical for all our brands as it brings together all customers and channels that service landscape professionals. It is a fantastic event that got even better several years ago when GIE and EXPO were combined.

"We can showcase our new products and services across our brands, give people the opportunity to try them out first-hand, and connect with key end-user customers and servicing dealers. There really is no other event like it!”

With the probability that the ethanol content in fuel will increase beyond the 15% level. As Schiller Grounds Care outsources all or most of its engines, are you confident that all of your products will handle E85…or worse?

PC, “We are working proactively with all suppliers to ensure that we are as ready as we can be as regulations evolve. What is most important to us is that our customers get the experience they are counting on to get their jobs done as they planned with our products. With many of our products, the fuel delivery system is integral to the engine. We use only the highest quality commercial grade engines in most of those applications, and we count on those partners to ensure expected performance and reliability as regulations evolve and shift.”

What do you see as the number one challenge facing the outdoor power equipment industry in the next 5 years?

PC, “I’m not sure I can pinpoint a clear #1. Certainly, the evolution to cordless, battery-powered products is critical. The evolving tariff situation is another one that we are all working hard to deal with, while trying to continue to deliver great value to our customers.

“Lately, the availability of skilled labor is causing significant challenges in our manufacturing operations. All of that said, while dealing with those issues, we continue to try to deepen our understanding of our customers and their daily challenges and innovate to help them get their jobs done better and faster. It’s definitely not easy, but we enjoy the challenge as we strive to make a positive impact.”

As a leading manufacturer, we expect you are constantly inundated with suggestions for new products. Can you share with us some of the more unusual suggestions...that didn’t make the cut?

PC, “We do receive many suggestions, especially given all of the brands and product categories we manufacture. I prefer not to highlight any of them as being “unusual”, because behind each idea is some insight into a problem our customers deal with. The challenge is to really empathize with the inventor and our end-user customers to understand the problems being solved. Somewhere in there, there’s usually some gold – even if the idea seems crazy on the surface!”

After the workday at Schiller Grounds Care ends for you, what has made it a good day?

PC, “A customer testimonial that lets us know that we have made their life easier or better in some way. That’s why we’re in the game!”

... GO TO Meet Pat Cappucci, President and COO of Schiller Grounds Care, TO READ MORE

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