GPN recently got the views of Joe Kovolyan, manager of grounds and automotive at the  Tacoma, Wash.-based University of Puget Sound on key factors in his equipment buying decisions.

The university is a private, nonprofit liberal arts college. The school won a 2013 Green Star Honor Award from the national Professional Grounds Management Society. The photo below on the right shows the grounds of the University of Puget Sound’s campus.

GPN wanted to know if the following or other factors were playing a role in 2015 purchases:
Tier 4 Final requirements
Green purchasing
Ease of maintenance
Good mileage and productivity

Joe Kovolyan offers his views below.

As both the grounds manager and garage manager, I’m definitely looking at new equipment on a regular basis. The first thing I’m looking hard at is the vendor selling that piece of equipment. Buying something on price alone, and then finding out you can’t get parts or that the vendor is too far away to drop off a loaner or demo, doesn’t help us.

Since most of us are now buying on government and state contracts, I think price has become even less of an issue. I want to have a partnership with a dealer. That philosophy has helped me out of more jams than price ever has.

As a grounds manager, it makes a better sales pitch to ask my boss for a $30,000+ mower that is useful both for the on-season and off-season, than for a $20,000+ mower that is going to sit unused for three to five months out of the year. A couple of good examples would be our Walker mowers, which can also take a broom or plow blade, or our Gator fleet, which can haul fuel transfer tanks to generators or plow sidewalks.

The other big issue is noise. We are looking for equipment that has lower decibels, both for the sake of the operators and, even more so, for the sake of the public around us. Noise sensitivity is a growing issue.

As the garage manager, I find that lower emissions and noise reduction play an ever-bigger role in what we seek in our equipment. This has meant the complexity of the equipment has grown, so the ease of getting parts is still number one in my book. Battery-driven equipment seems to be a trend, but I would love to see an evaluation of how many managers stick with this, or go back  to what they did before after seeing the replacement and recycling costs.

I have also noticed a growing manufacturer trend of using the same parts, such as the oil filter or fuel filter, on several models of the same make of equipment. If I can buy 10 filters and save 20 percent on the purchase, and throw them on a shelf knowing that they fit three machines on the floor, this is good budgeting, and it means better service when you get a window of time to perform your maintenance work.

GPN editor’s note: Thank you, Joe Kovolyan, for your views.

See more images of the University of Puget Sound’s campus grounds in the video.

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