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Stihl rolls out the iMow

BY Ken Clark

It might take a little getting used to, but there’s a new way to mow the lawn: the robotic way.

“My son thinks it great,” said Greg Longnecker, regarding the self-propelled, automatic, computer controlled iMow robotic lawn mower from Stihl. “Everyone is enamored with it.”

Longnecker is operations manager at J & I Power Equipment, a Stihl dealer in Olympia, Washington, where the new iMow started mowing the lawn at the store earlier this year, generating similar reactions from customers.

Longnecker is well-versed in the sales pitch. “You can throw your typical idea of lawn mowing out the window,” he said. “You set out the parameters and it just goes out and does it.”

Stihl threw its considerably weight into the category this year, joining brands including Husqvarna, Robomow and Worx. Stihl dealers must complete a three-day training program before they can retail the iMow, and the level of training they achieve helps deliver excellent installation service and service after the sale.

Stihl also brings some innovation to the product itself – for instance, it’s ground breaking steel blade. It also has auto-adjust mowing ability.  “Most if not all robotic mowers can be pre-programmed, but the STIHL iMow can make up for lost mowing time later in the week if you choose to delay mowing (e.g. if you’re having a lawn party and want the iMow to be docked or if you choose to not have the iMow run while it’s raining,” said a spokeswoman for the product.

It’s still early in the roll out phase for the iMow. Only about 10 dealers have it on the shelves currently. But according to Longnecker, the idea has legs, it will just take some education.

[See a video of the product in action here.]

The robotic mower is a high-end item. Stihl offers two versions: the RMI 422 P can mow up to a quarter acre, while the RMI 632 P can take on a full acre. The larger version sells for about $2,000, including a docking station. There is an additional cost for Installing a wired routing system (similar to an invisible fence for pets).

The benefits of the iMow, in addition to having a robot mow the lawn, include improved health of the grass. Because the iMow makes frequent passes over the turf, it cuts a small percentage of the grass blade, encouraging healthier, thicker grass.

Longnecker’s bottom line: “It will cut your mowing time down to zero.” 

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Hot product: Bernzomatic torch kit

BY HBSDealer Staff

Bernzomatic is promoting its TS8000 Premium Torch Kit for the busy worker. “Work faster and more efficiently,” is part of the pitch from the brand of Columbus, Ohio-based Worthington Industries.

The product is further described as a “versatile high heat torch for fast work times.”

The optimized swirl flame burns hot and efficiently for maximum heat output and fast soldering times. The auto start/stop ignition lights and extinguishes the flame with the push of a button, while a run-lock button keeps the torch lit for continuous use.

Work faster and more efficiently with the versatile High Heat Torch for Fast Work Times, designed for a wide range of jobs including soldering large diameter copper pipes, brazing and heat treating.

The torch kit is ideal for contractors and can be used to tackle a number of projects such as soldering, brazing, heat treating and light welding, the company said.

Bernzomatic, has been a major player in the blowtorch category since 1876.

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LBM Dealers Stand up for Technology

BY Andy Carlo

“If you look around you, you’re at a lumber and building materials conference,” said Lisa Pope, Epicor executive vice president Americas.

Pope delivered the opening keynote address at the Epicor 2017 LBM Conference here this morning and used the opportunity to reinforce the case for the software and ERP provider in front of a ballroom full of LBM professionals, including Epicor customers and potential customers.

“For us, this industry fit is absolutely key. We understand your needs,” Pope said. “It also helps you to be a better fit for your customers.”

Along with anticipating changes that might occur in the LBM industry, and sometimes recognizing them ahead of their customers, Pope said part of Epicor’s success equation is its ease of use. The system is easy to learn, deploy, access, and upgrade. “We want to be the Turbo Tax of enterprise software,” Pope said.

Simultaneously, Pope reminded Epicor customers to take advantage of upgrades. “If you’re not upgrading, you’re not leveraging your asset.”

Pope also told dealers to take advantage of Epicor’s Value Exchange program. Roughly 27% of Epicor’s LBM customers use the entire platform. Through the Value Exchange program, Epicor reps visit a dealer for two days while analyzing how the business is taking advantage of Epicor offerings and identifying pieces of the system that a business might not be utilizing, she said.

Looking ahead to 2018, Epicor is promising upgrades to its cloud offerings, while creating a “best in class” system, Pope said. Additionally, Epicor is looking to integrate better use of “mobility” and smart devices to drive growth.

During a recent visit with a customer in Hawaii, Graham Rigby, Epicor’s senior director of sales in the LBM sector, said the customer lost power for several hours. But because mobile devices had become so ingrained in the culture of the company, employees didn’t miss a beat and kept the business running – including processing transactions – during the entire outage.

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