I had the opportunity to speak with John Marchionda, Vice President of Marketing and Customer Care at Husqvarna, about outdoor power equipment (OPE). On his way to Huskvarna, Sweden by train to visit their headquarters, John and I chatted about dealers, products, technology, and culture. We’ve known about Husqvarna outdoor equipment quality for quite some time, but there’s a lot more to know about this company that boasts a history going back over 325 years. Let’s get to know what Husqvarna is all about.
Husqvarna’s Market Position
When it comes to the Husqvarna Outdoor Equipment (OPE) market, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better positioned manufacturer. Few companies have the ability to focus on both wheeled and handheld tools in addition to being able to meet the needs of true professionals and offer products to the pro minded consumer. There’s not really a pure “consumer” level with Husqvarna. They don’t sell $79 trimmers because you simply can’t make one for that price that meets the Husqvarna expectation for quality and performance. To get an idea of what Husqvarna has to offer in the mower categories, check out our reviews of the prosumer Husqvarna RZ54I 54″ ZTR mower and the professional level Husqvarna M-ZT 52 Zero Turn Mower.
While there is plenty of competition out there for Husqvarna (broad product lines make for solid competitors in every area), it may be their internal drive that is what makes them great. Market pressure certainly helps to challenge a company to stay ahead of the game. According to John, Husqvarna’s reputation and history leads them to “put more pressure on themselves than the competition puts on us.” John credits their success to the humble attitude of the company and the passion of their employees. Those passionate employees work to create passionate customers on the receiving end of their efforts.
A visit to Husqvarna’s website will show you a delineation between professional forestry, professional landscaping, and prosumer forest and garden tools. For the professional forester and landscaper, you’ll find everything you need at performance and quality that you demand from your equipment without compromise. For the prosumer, you’ll find the entire professional line of tools along with ones that are better suited for the smaller areas and lighter use than a full time professional would require. That’s not to say that these are substandard by any means. You’ll still find Husqvarna quality in all of their pro and prosumer level products.
The Husqvarna Outdoor Equipment Dealer Network
If you’re considering becoming one of Husqvarna’s 5,000 nationwide dealers, there are some pretty high standards to keep your eyes open for. Don’t expect to simply open up a new shop across the street from another dealer. The first part of the process for becoming a certified dealer is checking to see that their dealers aren’t competing against other brands and each other.
With respect to Husqvarna Outdoor Equipment, the company has their gaze focused squarely on the end user experience when it comes to dealers. That means that they are there to support customers during their research, purchase, and post purchase phases. They work with even small dealers on maintaining an online presence, where more and more professional users research products before they ever walk in to a retail store.
Husqvarna knows the value of a good store front and signage to get the customer to walk through the door in the first place. They look for businesses that are able to keep a wide range of products in stock, are friendly, and fiscally responsible. Husqvarna will even have their local sales rep help a business owner understand sustainable methods for keeping products in stock that will help maximize the bottom line when it comes to profit and loss. If you’re a potential dealer, expect that P&L conversation to take place before you ever get the opportunity to stock Husqvarna products.
After the sale, Husqvarna expects their customers to be able to walk into a dealership and find knowledgeable service mechanics and shops that are well stocked with parts. In order to maintain their certification as a Husqvarna service center, annual training must take place. There are face to face Service Schools brought to locations that local dealers can attend for hands on training and instruction that will help them better serve customer needs. New products are also introduced at these events and are supplemented with online, self paced curriculum.
All certified Husqvarna outdoor equipment dealerships are selected and trained to handle any service or warranty issues that arise after the sale. Needless to say, becoming a dealer is a commitment and one that Husqvarna reciprocates through proactive efforts. As a customer, you can be confident that when you walk into a certified Husqvarna dealer that you’re talking to people that are well trained in the product range.
Technology and Growth in the Husqvarna Line
With technology accelerating at a seemingly exponential pace, it’s no surprise that it is making its way into the professional and prosumer OPE markets as well. While some companies look for ways to merge the latest technology to their products as fast as they can without regard, Husqvarna takes an outside in approach. Rather than simply asking “can we?” they talk to end users through an annual needs assessment to ask “should we?” The bottom line is that there needs to be a tangible benefit to their customers in order to pursue something new.
Months and even years before new products are launched, Husqvarna sends out what they call “seed products” to trusted professionals in the industry to evaluate. This allows them to take what are conceptually solid designs and have them tested in the environments that they are expected to be used. Tweaks to the design can be made if necessary. Dealers and customers can be confident that each new product announced has been thoroughly evaluated in some of the toughest environments.
Some of the trends that Husqvarna sees in the OPE markets are what is driving their new product development. The largest areas of growth that they are currently experiencing are in the professional handheld tools for tree and landscape maintenance. This is followed by zero turn mower and battery powered OPE demands.
What hasn’t hit the market yet, but is in development, are some significant leaps in technology. Expect to see smart OPE products in coming years with online integration, connectivity, and even the ability to load data directly from the tool for fleet service management. While there will still be improvements made in ease of use, performance, and durability, new technology will change the service and solutions end of the customer experience.
The Complete Husqvarna Outdoor Equipment Experience
At the end of the day, Husqvarna’s dedication to the entire end user experience is both impressive and attractive. They start with a desire to create products that will be known for high quality and are a testament to their history. From product development to testing and finding their way to store shelves, Husqvarna knows that it’s no good if their dealers can’t support the sales process from pre-purchase research to service after the sale.
What good is having top notch customer service and dealers if you can only get a fraction of your professional products from them? You’ll be left wishing your other product dealers were just as good. Husqvarna meets that need by offering a complete product line for both the professional and pro minded consumer.
Husqvarna’s employees have a passion for what they do. They firmly believe that they produce the highest quality and most complete line of outdoor power equipment in the world. They back that belief up with a commitment to their dealers and customers that is refreshing in today’s market. While many companies place their focus on selling as many of the cheapest products that can be manufactured, Husqvarna still believes that high quality products and an outstanding user experience will lead to lifelong customers. That, my friends, is the kind of company that I want to business with.
Psst…If you own or operate a dealership or tool shop, here’s how you can become a Husqvarna dealer: