With annual sales of power lawn and garden equipment expected to eclipse $10 billion in the United States this year, the beleaguered industry is beginning to rebound from the recent recession.
Local dealers who sell and repair this equipment are seeing an uptick in their repair business, and are hopeful that it will continue.
The mechanics at Durden's Rental Service Center on Northside Drive are working until 11 p.m. on many evenings to meet the demand for equipment repair.
"We are extremely busy," owner Wayne Durden said. "We have been open for 25 years, and this past January and April are the busiest January and April that we have ever had. I think there are a couple of different reasons for that."
Durden said he believes that more people are doing their own outdoor maintenance instead of contracting it out.
"With the economy that we have had, many folks feel they need to cut back, and one of the ways to do that is to do your own lawn and garden work," he said. "A lot of folks would have someone do their lawn, because they both worked and their children were too young to help out. Well now those children are much older and they are getting out there and helping in the yard. They are either buying equipment or bringing in their old equipment for maintenance and repair."
Durden also said he thinks that the deals that can be had on lawn and garden equipment are an incentive for someone to get into the business in a small way as opposed to a large commercial operation.
"You can buy great lawn equipment now that can be financed with no interest over a period of two to three years," he said. "It's fairly easy to set up a small maintenance company with the deals that are being offered."
Randy Bragg of Bragg Motor Service on Northside Drive said they are also very busy. Bragg's father founded the company in 1956, and it specializes in the sale and repair of outdoor power equipment including lawn mowers, chain saws, string trimmers, and blowers.
"March through July is your really, really busy time," he said. "I am sure everyone is seeing the same trend that we are. Instead of buying new stuff, people are repairing what they have. And then, like farmers, there is the weather factor. When it rains and everything is growing we are even busier. Drought is not good for our business."
With more than 100,000 different parts in stock, Bragg said his company is able to work on virtually any piece of lawn equipment that is brought in for repair.
"Everybody is a little different," he said. "We will repair equipment from most manufacturers regardless of where it was purchased with the exception of Toro. We cannot get those parts, so we aren't able to work on those. There is a little bit of a pecking order though depending on whether or not you purchased the equipment from us or from someone else."
Durden said they repair most major outdoor power equipment brands, but the diversity in the industry limits his ability to repair all of the brands
"With the growth of the lawn and garden industry, it became increasingly difficult to maintain an adequate parts inventory to repair all makes," he said. "So, I encourage folks to give us a call, and we can certainly tell you over the telephone if it's something we can help you with. If it's not, we will try to steer you in right direction to get your equipment repaired."
Another player in the local outdoor equipment repair industry is Arrow Rentals on Zetterower Avenue. As with Bragg Motor and Durden's Rental Service, Arrow brings a little something different to the table.
"Not only do we repair all lawn and garden equipment, we also repair power tools," said Mike Price. "I think that is fairly unique in this area."
Price has also seen an upswing in their lawn and garden repair business.
"I attribute it to people feeling better about the economy in general," he said. "They are ready to invest and fix their equipment. I think it is a very good sign, and certainly hope it continues."