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local service shop on the conversions. However, he says his team is consid- ering doing its own conversions on future equipment.

Landscaping Lineup

Ecological Lawn & Tree Care vans and trailers are stocked with propane- and bat- tery-powered equipment and equipped for on-site recharging and refi lling.

ny. In 1988, he founded a moving and storage company and built it up to 100 employees before selling it in 2005. He sought out entrepreneurs in his family for help in starting his second business, this time in the landscape segment. “I have family in the business in New York. I spent a lot of time talking to them and learning from them. I had a lot of education going into the busi- ness,” he says.

DeFilippi also bet on the prefer- ences of consumers in Boulder, which tend to be more environmen- tally conscious than in other markets. Homeowners also are on the upper- end, with the price of the average sin- gle family home at $548,000 locally, compared with the national average of $227,000, according to the National Assn. of Realtors.

“A lot of people don’t realize how dirty the lawn and landscape business is,” he says.

“Boulder is more earth-friendly, but that wouldn’t stop me from trying this business model in other parts of the country.”

He shares these statistics on the Ecological website and in his conver- sations with potential customers: • Gas-powered lawn equipment burns 580 million gallons of fuel per year and contributes up to 5% of urban air pollution. • Ecological Lawn & Tree Care uses cordless-electric and propane-

powered mowers and equipment. Our equipment emits 3,300 times less hydrocarbons and less than half the carbon dioxide of gas mowers. He says that about half of his new business comes through the Internet.

Seeking Eco-friendly

Commercial Options DeFilippi says in his fi rst year he

used consumer-grade equipment like Ryobi, Worx and Stihl that he bought at big box stores. In 2011, he discovered CORE Outdoor Power’s commercial-grade, battery-powered, hand-held power tools at the annual Green Industry & Equipment Expo in Louisville, Ky. “The thing that I love about CORE is that they are meeting the demands of a commercial user.”

He began working with the compa- ny directly to purchase lawn trimmers and blowers to test the next season. “The battery run time is longer. The power of the machine is greater and the machines are much more durable. That answers a lot of my questions and solves a lot of my problems.” He also went to an area dealer,

G&G Equipment of Fredrick, Colo., to find mowing equipment to meet his standards. He talked with co-own- er Chuck Giefer about commercial options and decided converting com- mercial mowers to propane was the best choice. DeFilippi worked with a


Re-Charges On-Site In the height of the season, Ecological sends out four service vans, some pulling equipment trailers depending on the job size. Last year, he had one van dedicated to commer- cial accounts, such as homeowner associations and private schools. This year, he’ll increase that to two vans. Each commercial crew has three employees and a supervisor. Two-man crews handle the residential accounts. The commercial crews generally use a 72-inch Scag mower, two Wright Stander stand-on mowers, two Toro push mowers, and two each of the CORE blowers and trimmers. The rid- ing, stand-on and push mowers have been converted to propane. “We love them,” he says.

As far as the possibility of lost power with a machine converted to propane, DeFilippi is not concerned. “This is the way we started our business and I never wanted to use gas-powered mowers. My guess is that

continued on pg 68

• Dealers can’t know everything about every equipment line. But they must be willing to fi nd the answers, especially when it comes to specialized equipment.

Dealer Takeaways

• It’s not always what’s on the lot or in the showroom that earns you a sale. Sometimes, customers need your expertise to fi nd the equip- ment that best fi ts their business or properties.

• Keep current on what manufactur- ers are offering in terms of envi- ronmentally friendly technology. It may be a niche market, but can offer new sales opportunities.

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