By Dee Warren, Land Pride Marketing Manager
Spending tax dollars wisely is a chore that every government agency tackles. In recent years, the mantra of taxpayers has been to demand that their dollars are spent efficiently and wisely. According to the publication, “US Bureau of the Census, Survey of State and Local Government Finance, 1977-2016,” local governments spent $1.6 trillion in 2016 — the most current data available. It is estimated that state and local governments nationwide spent over $56 billion in 2016 on road maintenance — a portion of which is directed to roadside mowing equipment and contracts. Being entrusted to spend that much money judiciously is the charge that every purchasing manager lives under.
In the past, many state laws required rural residents to mow the roadside adjacent to their farm or ranch. As the family farm became part of a larger corporate farm, the roadside maintenance rates dropped. Today, states, counties or municipalities maintain up to 4,000,000 miles of roadsides to promote safety and beautification projects. For that reason, the purchase of quality roadside mowing equipment — like rotary cutters or flail mowers and the tractors to operate them — is a big ticket item for highway maintenance managers. Picking the right equipment for the task and staying within the budget to make the purchase is key.
It’s a big job, use the right tool
Maintaining grassy areas along roadsides, on levee systems or in government-owned spaces is a full-time job. The grasses are usually taller, tougher and harder to mow than your average lawn. Rotary cutters are uniquely suited for the task, although some states require other mower types, like flails, to be used in roadside applications.
Rotary cutters, like those available from Land Pride, make the mowing task more manageable. Folding rotary cutters are well-suited for roadside maintenance. They feature two blades per deck with either two or three decks for a total cutting width from 10 to 20 feet. The blades typically rotate at thousands of feet per minute providing a clean cut while also having the ability to cut small trees up to 5 inches in diameter. The efficiency they provide allows dedicated crews to mow several miles of road per day.
Fleet managers looking to spend tax dollars intelligently should look for rotary cutters that offer ease-of-maintenance features. Maintenance of rotary cutters is an important factor in limiting downtime and lengthening the life of the machine. Rotary cutters manufactured by Land Pride offer several maintenance features — like safety shields that slide completely out of the way for access to grease zerks, flat decks that allow for easy cleaning, maintenance-free bushings and replaceable high-wear parts — that allow operators the ability to perform needed maintenance quickly and get back to mowing. Units that are not easy to maintain usually mean maintenance is done less frequently, leading to downtime.
Roadside mowing not only requires a reliable rotary cutter but also requires a reliable tractor. Mowing crews are consistently working eight-hour days, five days a week so you need a tractor/cutter combo that will do the same because mechanical breakdowns are costly in both time and money. Land Pride Rotary Cutters are some of the most reliable in the industry and feature warranties of up to seven years on the gearboxes. They are also performance matched to Kubota tractors. That means the tractor and cutter are matched in weight, horsepower and other key specifications. The reliability of Kubota tractors pairs well with the proven performance of Land Pride mowers.
Stretching the budget
A quality tractor-mower combination for roadside mowing can be a big purchase for any equipment budget. Smart fleet managers look at ways to stretch the budget while getting the highest quality for the dollars invested. That’s where cooperative purchasing comes in. In the typical request for quote bid, agencies are stuck with the lowest bid, even if it’s not up to the quality standards that fleet managers want.
Cooperative buying works like this: A highway maintenance manager identifies their needs. After that, the manager can contact a manufacturer and the manufacturer can direct them to a contract, allowing the agency and manufacturer to work together on the purchase. This enhanced customer service is one thing that sets cooperative buying apart from the bid process. Since the manufacturer has already gone through the competitive bid process, the purchase process is streamlined, allowing the agency to go from identifying the product needed to issuing a PO, often at thousands of dollars less than retail. The competitive bid process has been satisfied by the cooperative agency that issued the contract.
There are many cooperative buying groups that government agencies can be a part of. Land Pride and Kubota offer contracts with several, including Sourcewell (www.sourcewell-mn.gov) and BuyBoard (www.buyboard.com), just to name two. With so many cooperative contracts available, buyers need to choose the one that best meets their buying needs. Organizations like Sourcewell make sure everything is transparent. They maintain all of the paperwork, and the contracts are competitively solicited, evaluated and awarded by a public agency that is bound by laws regulating the process. Everything is available for public review.
By purchasing through a cooperative contract, fleet managers in many government agencies can take advantage of the time- and money-saving benefits that the contracts provide. Buyers can be connected to manufacturers easily and without worry. As stated at the beginning of this article, spending tax dollars is a chore that every government agency tackles and cooperative purchasing will help.
For information, visit www.landpride.com.