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Global Insight

Battery Power – Now and the Future – An Interview with Tony Marchese is the Vice President of Sales and Operations, Commercial Business Group, of GREENWORKS

At FocusOn, we serve a variety of industries and with that comes the responsibility to keep you, are readers up to date with the latest in technology while providing a peek into the future. The most significant change by far that has and is occurring in the equipment manufacturing is the evolution of battery powered products. It started with a limited number of hand held products but today we see battery powered skid steers, backhoe loaders, trucks and even mining equipment. There does not seem to be anything that is or was gas or diesel powered that won’t be or isn’t already, battery powered.

If anyone doubts that battery power is still something years away, look to Norway, (despite the “all in fun” jabs at the Norwegians by Will Ferrell in the GM Super Bowl commercial) Norwegian sales of electric cars have risen to a record 54% market share in becoming the first in the world where electric car sales outstrip those powered by other means.

We turned to the current leader in commercial grade battery powered outdoor power equipment maker, GREENWORKS Commercial for a report on the status of the industry today and a glimpse into the future of battery power.

Tony Marchese is the Vice President of Sales and Operations, Commercial Business Group, of GREENWORKS where he has led the company’s team responsible for the North American and Latin American Commercial and Professional markets.

Marchese was no stranger to the commercial power equipment market having served in senior executive positions at Husqvarna and Bush Hog for 25 years prior to joining Greenworks Commercial in 2017.

“When I first met Tony when Greenworks was just getting into the commercial market”, tells FocusOn Publisher Rick Vandekieft, “I asked him if battery powered products will be the future of the industry to which he replied, ‘Battery powered products are not the future, they are now!’ and he was right then and he continues to be right!”.

The FocusOn Global Insights Interview with Tony Marchese

FocusOn: Let’s talk battery power, the commercial landscaper, dealers and GREENWORKS Commercial. the pandemic has had an unusual and, in many cases, an unexpected effect on many businesses. Home Improvement giants such as Lowes and Home Depot have reported record sales of lawn and garden products in 2020. In discussions with many manufactures and dealers, we are hearing the same on the commercial side, booming sales.What kind of a 2020 has it been for Greenworks Commercial?

Tony Marchese (Marchese): 2020 was a very unusual year for several reasons. It is true that the consumer side of the business exploded due to homeowners focusing internally during the pandemic. On the commercial side of the business, we saw different growth factors that drove our battery business. First, we had one of those great weather years that started early and finished very late- great conditions that used up product and generated demand for new product. Second is we continue to see towns, municipal, state and local, and corporate properties going green.


FocusOn: In our surveys from past GIE+EXPO shows, the last being from the 2019 event, 2,016 landscape pros answered the question, “Do you think that all of your landscape equipment will be battery powered in the next 6 to 10 years?” 43% said yes and what makes this more interesting is that in the survey following the 2018 event, only 14.5% of the respondents said yes. I think you are seeing the fact that more and more landscapers are becoming aware of the capability of battery product. I also think that many are seeing some of their current or potential sites going green and they are becoming responsive to the customer.

When do you expect the majority landscapers to have most of their fleets to be battery powered? (handheld and walk-behind equipment, and drive-on mowers).

Marchese: I think you are going to see two different paradigms occurring in the short term. One is the landscaper who will stay with gas powered products as long as possible. The second is that landscaper who sees a new business model by going green or some or all of his projects go green. I think the large national landscapers will lead the way into the future within the usage and acceptance of battery powered product.


FocusOn: The pandemic does have people thinking more about emissions and emission avoidance. Do you expect this to also translate in the customers of commercial landscapers to be more demanding for no emission products to be used on their properties?

Marchese: Yes I think you are seeing this today in the products that the homeowner is buying to take care of their properties. One is the ease of use of battery powered products and the second is the desire to go green. I think some homeowners may change providers as I said earlier you have some landscapers who are resistant to change. There are now also other options for homeowners to go green as we are seeing new landscape companies that are all green and using marketing to allow homeowners to see them as a viable and welcome solution.


FocusOn: California has always been a leader in the US for standards to reduce emission through CARB. Last year the State of California announced it is going well beyond the CARB schedule of reductions by considering a ban on all gas-powered lawn care equipment within just a few years. In the meantime, many jurisdictions in North America are joining California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District and San Joaquin Valley with aggressive trade in programs to rid their communities of gas-powered products. All these actions must be welcomed news at GREENWORKS.

Marchese: These are welcomed, and California and some other states are becoming very aggressive within the regulation side of the business. This will drive the conversion sooner and help the overall acceptance of battery products.


FocusOn: Do you expect a ban on gas powered equipment to happen in California in the next few years and if so, do you expect other states and provinces to follow?

Marchese: I fully expect the entire west coast to go green and you also have a very strong green movement within the northeast states as well.


FocusOn:Battery disposal is one of the “cons” to battery powered products. Call2Recycle is a great first step in helping to avoid batteries ending up in landfills. Is this a program that GREENWORKS and its dealers support and promote? And what other steps is GREENWORKS taking for proper battery disposal?

Marchese: Yes, we are looking to work with all avenues within the recycling effort of batteries. I think our entire country needs to look for real solutions for all battery products- phones, tools, outdoor power and etc.


FocusOn: In December 2020 the European Commission proposed a new Batteries Regulations, updating the 2013 regulations This Regulation is to ensure that batteries placed in the EU market are sustainable and safe throughout their entire life cycle. It also addresses mandatory recycling. Will there be (or is there already) any legislation anywhere in US in regard to battery disposal? If not, do you expect to see it in the near future?

Marchese: I absolutely think that this will come to America as we are not the only users of lithium batteries. Every aspect of American life will be affected and we as a nation will need to adapt to this new power source from the beginning to the end of the life cycle.


FocusOn: Without tipping your hand on any proprietary R&D, what can you tell our readers about changing battery technology? What can they expect new this year and in the next 3 to 5 years?

Marchese: There is a lot of exciting new products that are under development. We are fortunate that the auto companies are really driving the development of the next generations of batteries. They are the largest users, and they need this development to make their product mainstream and we will benefit from it.


FocusOn: Does Greenworks manufacture their own batteries?

Marchese: We assemble our own batteries. We source our cells from the best manufacturers and then assemble and test the battery packs in our facility.


FocusOn: With new technology, do you expect battery costs to come down and if so, slightly or dramatically?

Marchese: I really think that we will see extended range prior to lower cost. As an industry the need is great for longer and lighter product. I think this comes before lower cost and lower cost would take a few large technological steps to attain.


FocusOn: In 2019, GREENWORK’s Corey Fisher told us about the plans that were in the works for a comprehensive telematics program for some of the GREENWORKS equipment. Can you update our readers on this?

Marchese: We believe that the future of robotic mowers within the commercial segment is going to be huge. We think that large municipal, collegiate and corporate properties will be maintained by large robotic mowers. Greenworks is deeply investing our time and resources within this new opportunity.


FocusOn: What other technological breakthroughs / introductions can we expect in 2021?

Marchese: I think you will begin to see these new larger robotic mowers begin to reach the market beginning in 2021 and growing in the future.


FocusOn: In the last two years has there been a new product that has had a much higher level of success than expected?

Marchese: We are happy to see landscape contractors choosing battery ride on and stand on zero turns as well as our backpack battery blower and 25” commercial walk mower.


FocusOn: Servicing dealers know that battery powered products are the future, but they also see them creating challenges to their business as they know that revenue from service and parts will significantly drop. What arguments do you offer to dealers to convince them to stock and sell GREENWORKS products.

Marchese: I have this conversation with dealers all of the time. I point out to them that we sell service parts for all of our products and that commercial product is still damaged or broken and in need of repair. I also point out to them that they get the battery and charger sale along with the whole good sale which is different than that of gas product.


FocusOn: Some of GREENWORKS Commercial competitors in the battery powered equipment market offer a consumer range of products and a commercial range through their dealers. Will (or do) GREENWORKS Commercial dealers have access to the extensive line of 40V and 24V GREENWORKS consumer outdoor equipment and hand tools as well?

Marchese: We do offer our dealers an exclusive line of 48/24 dual voltage product that is exclusive to the dealer channel. This allows the dealer to have an exclusive line that is not sold anywhere else and gives them competitive product to sell against the national home centers.


FocusOn: Putting you on the other side for a minute, what possible argument can a rental store operator give for preferring to rent a gas-powered chain saw over a GREENWORKS GS181?

Marchese: I am not sure that I can give you one. I spent a significant time in my career with one of the gas chainsaws companies and our GS181 has the power and capability of a 55cc gas saw without any of the gas problems. From a rental perspective, it is a no brainer.


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