Outdoor Experts Inc. of Romulus, MI, is living up to its name in more ways than one. Not only does it provide expert lawn care services to its commercial and residential customers in the Southwestern Metropolitan Detroit area, but it has also become more efficient in getting its equipment to job sites since it started using customized trucks from Super Lawn Trucks.
Terry Younglove, president of Outdoor Experts Inc., says he bought his first Super Lawn Truck two years ago and has been so impressed with the truck's performance and the amount of time the system has saved his crews out on the job, that this year he purchased a second unit. Younglove's two Super Lawn Trucks are built on GMC W4500 Series chassis; the customized vans are from Morgan Van Bodies.
Super Lawn Trucks are available in a variety of lengths and GVWs. “We opted to go with a longer, 18-ft van for the extra space it gives us, so we needed a heavier, 14,500-lb GVW truck. We also chose diesel engines over gasoline because they give us more horsepower and better fuel economy,” Younglove reports.
Outdoor Experts Inc. offers its customers a full menu of lawn maintenance and landscaping services. In addition to the 2001 and 2003 model Super Lawn Trucks, the fleet is comprised of a number of Ford trucks used for landscaping and fertilizing in the summer and fitted with snowplows and salters in the winter.
In the lineup is a 2002 F-650 dump truck with pulling trailer for a two-yard loader, along with several four-wheel-drive trucks, including a 2001 F-350 dump, 2001 F-250 Extra Cab pickup, 1997 F-350 Crew Cab and 1997 F-350 pickup.
Younglove says equipment utilization is one of his company's biggest challenges “because we have two distinct seasons in Michigan. Not all of the vehicles are used to their fullest capacity year-round, which creates extra overhead for us. However, we continue to strive to find ways to use the trucks year round, including using them for sweeping parking lots.
“Because we run mostly newer equipment,” Younglove points out, “our maintenance costs are minimal and don't warrant a full-time in-house mechanic. Preventive maintenance is performed at the dealership every 3,000/5,000 or 8,000 miles, depending on the vehicle. We promote newer equipment and strive to keep the trucks looking good so our team members will take pride in them and in our company.”
There are currently eight employees working for Younglove. Teams of two, including a foreman — who also drives the truck — and a helper, perform yard maintenance and other services.
“Our teams especially like the new Super Lawn Trucks. Both trucks have automatic transmissions and air conditioning. Their cabover design provides excellent visibility and a tight turning radius for easy handling. The biggest advantage, however, is that everything the crew needs to do its job is stored on board,” Younglove says.
“In fact, we had three tool boxes mounted to the underbody of the truck for quick access to spare parts and hand tools needed for field repairs. The added storage also gives employees a place to put their personal items that is convenient for them to get at without having to climb in and out of the van or cluttering up the truck's cab.”
Younglove notes that loading and unloading equipment is easier with the truck's hydraulic ramp system and crews are also making fewer trips to gas stations because of an on-board fuel storage system, which holds enough fuel to run the mowers and power tools for about a week. He specs a 39-gal. gasoline and a 26-gal. diesel fuel tank.
Since starting Outdoor Experts in 1997, Younglove has continued to grow the business and add new services for customers. Currently the company is expanding its service area to approximately 36 sq. miles. “Learning ways to do things better is essential to being a successful businessman,” Younglove comments. “I get a lot of good ideas through networking and by attending trade shows and training seminars as often as possible.”