GPN reached out to Steve Meriam, director of sales at STIHL Inc., to learn what governments are buying in the outdoor power equipment space. STIHL sells chainsaws, trimmers, blowers, mowers and construction tools. The firm offers gasoline-, electric- and battery-powered products. Steve Meriam's (photo to the right) views follow.

GPN: Are local governments continually in the market for handheld power equipment?

Steve Meriam: Yes. STIHL has found many cities and counties are looking for new equipment annually. In areas where landscaping activities are going on year-round, such as Florida, there is an even greater need. In many states, our company participates in the annual bid processes for product procurement.

GPN: Are any of your firm’s products doing especially well in the local government marketplace?

SM: STIHL has a broad line of handheld outdoor power equipment. With the increasing demand for low noise and low exhaust emission products, our gasoline-powered equipment is doing well, and the professional series of the STIHL Lightning Battery System is increasingly in demand. Some popular products in the line are the FSA 90 R string trimmer, HSA 66 hedge trimmer, BGA 100 blower and the AR 900 and AR 3000 backpack batteries. Popular gasoline-powered products include the BR 600 backpack blower and the FS 90 R string trimmer.

GPN: Do governments often prefer sustainable/green products?

SM: Cities and counties are seeking more opportunities to invest in sustainable solutions that help them care for nature and benefit their residents and budgets with equipment that performs. Our firm’s product development has always been geared toward satisfying those needs. Our product lines are among the cleanest-running outdoor power equipment on the market.

Most recently, we have seen the demand for battery-powered equipment increase. The challenge in previous years has been the lack of power and work time, but with the new technologies we offer, we’ve seen municipalities and state entities, such as college campuses, begin to make the shift to battery. We work with nationwide and state rebate programs that incentivize governments to either trade-in or purchase sustainable products. Many municipal entities see an investment in battery-powered equipment as an investment in their community because they’re eliminating exhaust emissions and disruptive noise. At the same time, there are budget benefits as well. With reduced fuel and maintenance costs, and because battery equipment is more simple to operate, reduced training is required for employees.

We have performed many demonstrations of our firm's battery products for various government agencies, parks departments, college campuses, etc. and those products always generate a lot of interest. After one Florida parks and recreation department recently saw the STIHL Lightning Battery System products in action, they invested in our company's battery products for the first time for their crews.

GPN: How does the STIHL new lithium-ion battery technology fit into governments' sustainability needs and requirements?

SM: STIHL lithium-ion products work well for agencies with requirements to reduce their carbon footprint, lower maintenance costs or work quietly in noise-sensitive areas like hospitals and schools.

For example, a grounds employee using our FSA 90 R string trimmer with a STIHL AR 900 backpack battery can work for up to 120 minutes on a single charge. For our government customers, that’s significant. Their crews are able to tackle daily tasks with fewer interruptions, saving time and money.

GPN: Does STIHL have any advice for local government administrators on selecting the right handheld power equipment?

SM: When government administrators are weighing their options, they should consider how to make a long-term investment that will allow them to be good stewards of both government funds and the environment. Service should be part of that consideration. Buying equipment from a servicing dealer can extend the life of products and ensure budgets aren’t being spent on products that have to be constantly replaced. Our STIHL servicing dealers can provide guidance on what level of power is appropriate for specific maintenance tasks, as well as the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and accessories required. This allows administrators to accurately estimate their needs.

In the video, see the manufacturer’s lithium-Ion technology at work in several pieces of equipment.

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