While much of the economic news seems negative, there are signs showing that some sectors are looking up. Stihl Inc., which manufactures power equipment including grass and hedge trimmers, has benefited from an expanding do-it-yourself crowd looking to take on smaller jobs like pruning and trimming. Since 2009, Stihl is predicted to be moving into a third consecutive year of record turf-related sales. Stihl promotional communications manager, Roger Phelps, stated that homeowners are spending as much as $550 for professional trimmers instead of cheaper, consumer models.
Homeowners view professional equipment as investments they can pay off over time, said president and chief executive officer of Ariens Co., Daniel Ariens. The company makes mowers and snow blowers. Consumer sales have improved with homeowners opting for $4,000 to $10,000 commercial mowers, compared to $1,000 consumer riding models.
Ariens' commercial sales have continued rising, up 25 percent this year. ''Consumers are slowly coming back to hiring landscape contractors,'' said Ariens.
Landscapers, however, are cautious to reinvest as customers trickle back — repairing existing equipment and holding back on new orders, or purchasing cheaper models than in years past, he said. Ariens' spare parts business has continued to grow since the recession.