Jacobsen: Meeting the Challenge

Being economically and environmentally responsible are two big elements that an equipment manufacturer like Jacobsen must get its arms around
by By Larry Aylward/Editorial Director

Editor's note: The June issue of Superintendent magazine features a special report on golf and sustainability. "Driving Sustainability" comprises a 32-page supplement. We were fortunate to have 13 advertisers/sponsors involved in the supplement to make it possible and to help educate superintendents about sustainability. We asked the sponsors to share their philosophies about sustainability as it pertains to their products. It's clear these companies take sustainability very seriously and are committed to its economic, environmental and social components. While their stories appeared in the June issue, we're also sharing them in this newsletter. Today, a look at Jacobsen.

Sustainability drives innovation. That's Chris Vernon's mantra when superintendents ask him where Jacobsen stands on the management approach.

Being economically and environmentally responsible are two big elements for an equipment manufacturer like Jacobsen to get its arms around. But Jacobsen must - time and again.

"It's tough to merge those two, but that's where we have to be innovative," says Vernon, vice president of marketing and product management for Charlotte, based Jacobsen, which manufactures mowers and other turf equipment. Jacobsen was the first mower company to introduce electric technology to golf course maintenance equipment in the early 1990s.

Recently, the company continued on the leading edge of electric and hybrid technology with the introduction of the ECLIPSE line of walking and riding greens mowers.

"When you look at the numbers, the fuel and cost savings are staggering, "Vernon says of the ECLIPSE. "Just one ECLIPSE 322 all-electric riding greens mower can reduce fuel consumption by 924 gallons a year, around $5,000."

In addition, advanced frequency-of-clip setting on the Jacobsen ECLIPSE mowers allows superintendents to maintain existing ball speeds at higher heights of cut, which reduces water and chemical usage and helps provide a healthier plant. But sustainability will continue to present challenges for Jacobsen to build equipment with more efficient components.

There are also the Tier 4 emission standards that Jacobsen must meet for its equipment with diesel engines. Vernon knows there's plenty of existing mowers that need to be replaced by more environmentally friendly and economically efficient equipment that would fit well into a golf course's sustainability plans. But it requires an upfront investment for a long-term payoff, something many superintendents are unable to do because of the difficult economy. But that could soon change.

"As the economy continues to rebound, I expect we'll see more superintendents investing in technology that supports sustainability," Vernon says.

On the homefront, Jacobsen follows a very sustainable platform under its roof. The company recently partnered with the Golf Environment Organization (GEO), a nonprofit group that promotes sustainable golf courses through a comprehensive certification program.