Additional Power helps Irish Firm stay on top of mowing contracts.
By Mike Bird
Northern Ireland's largest landscape contractor has relied on Kubota F Series front mowers as its principal grass-cutting machine for more than 15 years.
Starting off initially with two 24hp F2400s in the early 1990s, the Landscaping Centre has moved steadily up the power scale to help it meet the requirements laid down within its various grass maintenance contracts, the largest of which is with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
Today, the Landscaping Centre runs 16 Kubota F60 Series front mowers of 30hp and 33hp that are used primarily for maintaining roadside verges and other open spaces where grass collection is not required. These machines are supported by a Kubota G18 GlideCut and two G2160s ride-on mid mowers, all fitted with collectors, a 21hp B2100 tractor with mid-mount cutter deck, and a 94hp ME9000 tractor with 8ft rear-mounted mower, the latter combination dedicated to cutting larger, more open areas of grass.
Founded in 1980, the firm specialised initially in nursery stock production and general landscaping, mainly for domestic customers. During the late 1980s, nursery stock production gradually came to an end to be replaced by a thriving retail operation in the form of a modern purpose-built garden centre located at Donegore Hill, Dunadry, Co Antrim.
Meanwhile, from the same base, the landscaping side of the business expanded steadily into the commercial sector, developing a range of services from scheme design, planning and construction through to the renovation and maintenance of both hard and soft surfaces. In 1993, the Landscaping Centre was the first landscape contractor in Ireland - and one of the first five in the UK - to achieve ISO9002 accreditation.
The firm's contracts are spread right across the north of Ireland with an increasing level of business now being won in the south. Responsibility for managing the landscaping and grounds maintenance contracts lies with William Dawson who heads a team of contract managers and 80 staff looking after specific geographical areas, mostly within Northern Ireland. Contracts are split approximately 80:20 between the public and private sectors.
"Kubota mowers have been the first choice of the Landscaping Centre ever since we secured our first large grass cutting contract more than 15 years ago," pointed out Mr Dawson. "Although we have looked at the competition over the years, Kubota F Series front mowers continue to satisfy our two main criteria, namely, all-round operating performance and low running costs.
"Reliability and quality of cut are both excellent and we have yet to find a better or safer machine on banks. Turning to running costs, we have been able to pin these down thanks to the first-class training, planned maintenance schedules and parts supply arrangements set up with local Kubota dealer, Laird Grass Machinery, which includes an on-site repair service, if needed."
Having secured a new partnership contract for 2005 onwards with the NI Housing Executive, the Landscaping Centre decided in late 2004 to assess Kubota's F3560 front mower. At 33hp, it delivered 10per cent more power more than the firm's biggest Kubota machine at that time - the 30hp F3060 mower.
"It was felt that the more powerful F3560 would be able to handle the most demanding grass conditions with a little less effort, reducing maintenance requirements, particularly when cutting in wet weather at the height of the growing season," explained Mr Dawson.
To maintain the NI Housing Executive's maximum and minimum required grass lengths of 65mm and 25mm respectively during the summer, the mowing teams are operating on a 10 to 14 day cycle that can really test the mowers at time of vigorous grass growth. Results during its first season has shown that the extra power and cost of the F3560 has been well justified as the mower was able to deal more comfortably with longer, tougher grass areas, turning in consistently high workrates.
"It's horses for courses," concluded Mr Dawson. "The F3060 mowers still do a tremendous amount of grass cutting but we've been delighted with the extra performance offered by its bigger brother. Irrespective of the model number, they're all Kubotas and that instils confidence in our staff and our customers."
For further information, please contact:
David Roberts or Rhian Kendall
Sales and Marketing Manager Marketing Co-ordinator
Kubota (U. K.) Limited, Dormer Road, Thame, Oxon OX9 3UN, UK
Tel: 00 44 (0)1844 214500
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