Probably you have already noticed that I truly care about golf clubs’ sustainability efforts. So far, I showed golf clubs’ sustainability initiatives. I thought it would be interesting to know what do golf turf equipment manufacturers, like John Deere doing/helping golf clubs to achieve their goals.
Hence, I asked Carlos Aragonés (Sales & Marketing Manager, Turf & Golf, John Deere EMEA) in my interview to share with us their perspective/point of view.
Our priority for the last number of months has been maintaining and protecting our people’s health and well-being. Understanding this has been and continues to be our top priority, we have been assuring increased levels of support and the best possible experience for customers through our channel business partners and ultimately the entire John Deere Sales & Marketing organization.
John Deere is fully committed to the manufacture and support of advanced, reliable equipment and technology for the world’s best golf courses. We have built a reputation on quality – not only in our products but also for the way in which we treat our customers and do business.
How can golf turf equipment manufacturers help golf clubs to maintain turf quality during pandemics?
We understood that probably one of the most challenging aspects of maintaining a golf course during the COVID-19 pandemic has been keeping the golf courses turf healthy rather than focusing on playability, being both equally important under normal circumstances.
Keeping this into perspective, and knowing we all had to adhere to all necessary and required social distancing and sanitary measures, John Deere´s focus has always been on continuing to deliver high-quality products that are easy to operate and maintain, but also and foremost, on assuring we could deliver the best customer and product support experience to every single venue through our professional channel partners – John Deere Dealers.
Increased communication in a virtual fashion has been a key aspect in assuring we were on top of customer needs during these unprecedented times, supporting with equipment optimization and keeping machines up and running, ultimately at its best from a performance perspective.
We offer technologies like John Deere TechControl, that enable course managers to define settings for operators, which provide consistency to the work being done by any operator, being an important aspect with more shifts and diverse operators. Another example is the John Deere ProGator 2030A GPS PrecisionSprayer, which allows recording jobs and remote spraying activities tracking when required, having operators’ tasks pre-planned and defined in advance, reducing variability, and increasing productivity.
It has been challenging and we had to adapt to multiple scenarios, but John Deere Dealers have reinvented themselves and stepped up to deliver on ensuring that the equipment was ready when required and conveniently backed up with John Deere‘s genuine service and parts.
We are normally delivering parts overnight and having them arrive in the morning the next day, providing what we understand to be a unique second to none product and customer support experience. We have ultimately focused on doing all possible to assure we had everything in place to keep our customers up and running during these unprecedented times.
Did you have to change your business operations how you serve your clients due to the pandemic?
First, it was all about ensuring our people were safe and that all pandemic known containment measures were in place, and by assuring this, we could then make sure we were supporting customers and their needs within the diverse markets. If our operations were up and running, our channel partners were up and running, and therefore, we could keep our customers up and running.
The pandemic brought increased change and obviously, we had to adapt as the circumstances have been different and represented multiple scenarios across the diverse markets. As mentioned before, we did further increase our “virtual” support and overall communication through different channels.
Customer and product support have been key and in the case of new equipment deliveries, we did offer tailored financial plans via our John Deere Financial services with “buy now, pay later” programs. For over a century John Deere has provided financial support to its customers, building loyalty through good times and bad.
We did get into the shoes of our customers and doubled down on offering more tailored support and solutions than any time before, which was completely necessary and the right thing to do when you are a customer-focused organization.
How can golf turf equipment manufacturers and innovation contribute to golf clubs’ sustainability efforts?
Innovation is a John Deere core value very present since the company foundation in 1837. We have recently gone through a global reorganization and as a smart industrial organization, we are accelerating our efforts in regards to innovation and ultimately technology advancement.
Some of the areas for which we do have existing examples on how innovation can support sustainability efforts while continuing to deliver superior performance and cutting quality are:
- E-Cut hybrid electric cutting reel technology, with which we were first to market and count with more than 10 years of experience gained worldwide. We now offer the widest range of hybrid machines in the industry. From fairway mowers to greens mowers, we have proven technology offering a superior cut quality while reducing noise and fuel consumption, as well as the risk of hydraulic oil leaks.
- TechControl, which provides operators with an easy-to-read large screen, precise fingertip control of machine operation, and password protection for key settings. This allows the course manager to set the parameters for consistent cutting, turning and transport speeds, supporting fuel consumption reduction and increased productivity. This is offered on our recently launched advanced John Deere 2750 E-Cut hybrid ride-on greens triplex mower, as the latest example.
- ProGator 2030A GPS PrecisionSprayer with AutoTrac automatic guidance. John Deere has been a leader in GPS technology for more than 20 years, bringing the technology and experience for golf course maintenance use. This integrated spraying solution uses satellite technology and real-time kinematic navigation down to accuracy levels of 2.5 cm, providing chemical (up to 20%) and labor savings, increased productivity, and is easy to set up and operate. It offers the potential to control inputs more accurately with reduced overlaps and robust analytics for recording and legislation purposes.
These are all examples of solutions that are environmentally friendly and driving increased sustainability via innovation, but still delivering increased productivity, uptime, and unlocking the economic value to our customers.
They are pieces of a puzzle that will enable John Deere to connect the entire fleet – compact tractors, utility vehicles, mowers – and further unlock incremental value via remote data management and decision making which will be linked to further drive our joint sustainable efforts with our customers.
We will continue to work together with customers on developing John Deere´s leading precision turf strategy, understanding and addressing their needs via our golf course production system emphasis unlocking enduring value in each job, as we continue to place innovative sustainable solutions supporting golf courses maintenance and also the respective communities and future generations via technology enhancement.
And beyond technology, how is John Deere contributing with sustainability efforts?
John Deere is committed to sustainability in every aspect of our global business, from the way we operate our factories and office facilities to the way we design our products, and to providing products and services that will help our customers meet and deliver on their own sustainability goals.
We share the concerns of our customers in the golf industry, including reducing water use, pollution, and the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and we are developing innovative turf equipment to help them meet those concerns.
With the strategic use of automation, our equipment can help turf customers manage one of their most pressing problems: the rising cost and the declining availability of labor. And our work with electrification, fluids, and emissions has made our turf fleet among the best for limiting customers’ environmental footprint.
John Deere has its Eco-Efficiency Goals, a suite of targets governing energy and water use, waste management and product design that minimizes the impact of our equipment on the environment.
We are already looking forward and recently announced a new set of 2022 Sustainability Goals as we continue to work on this important matter which is fully embedded within our daily efforts and for which we are making solid progress.
Can we say that greenkeepers prefer to work in golf clubs where they can use innovative, high-end mowers and other golf turf equipment? What is the contribution of such equipment to the golf club’s employee experience?
At John Deere we are proud of developing technology that provides our customers with increased performance at a lower lifelong cost, and which is easy for operators to use.
We invest over 4 million USD a day worldwide on research and development, using state-of-the-art engineering facilities and processes to ensure that our products meet our customers’ needs. Modern manufacturing concepts such as virtual reality laboratories allow us to engage with customers at an early stage of product development.
Greenkeepers around the globe are very passionate about what they do and we are very passionate about serving their needs with differentiating advanced solutions, supporting their operations, daily tasks, and ultimately with the quality of the product they are taking care of and manicuring – the golf course and its turf.
We know every course is built once, but it´s maintained forever.
When you consider that passion, and you add innovation to the equation, you will obviously enhance your value proposition and this will be reflected in the quality of the work you are doing, which will be more efficient and productive.
I would not only focus on advanced solutions, but on every other piece that contributes to run a golf operation
I would not only focus on advanced solutions, but on every other piece that contributes to run a golf operation in a seamless way, and we should not forget that one of the most valued things by customers continues to be the customer and product support, the overall ownership experience.
The most advanced equipment and solutions also require support and attention and that is how John Deere has been, is, and will be looking at it to deliver a unique second to none experience.
Even during these challenging times, golf course maintenance crews all over the world are still maintaining golf courses and from John Deere, we would like to once again salute the women and men who have been and are making sure the game of golf is ready at any time. Our sincere thank you to all of them.
Thank you, Carlos for the interview.