When it comes to machines that drive, Jacobsen Product Manager Chris Fox knows a few things about golf course superintendents’ wants and needs.
“How many times do you pull up to a golf course maintenance facility and the superintendent has a Toyota Prius parked out front?” Fox asks. “Probably never. He has a Ford F250 with four-wheel drive parked.”
Fox is spot on in his observation. And he’s betting his Chevy Tahoe that superintendents will like the big, tough and fun-to-drive new utility vehicle Jacobsen recently introduced — the Truckster XD.
Jacobsen unveiled the Truckster XD at a media event in January at the company’s Charlotte, North Carolina, headquarters.
According to Jacobsen, the utility vehicle features the golf course maintenance industry’s largest payload capacity at 3,550 pounds, and the bed is constructed of 75 percent thicker steel than other utility vehicles. The Truckster XD also boasts a 60-inch-wide cab.
Superintendents will get their first view of the Truckster XD at the upcoming Golf Industry Show in San Antonio.
The Truckster XD has been Fox’s main focus for the last two years. He was charged with developing a product requirement document, based on voice of the customer (VOC) insight. Fox spent ample time with superintendents to ascertain what they need and want in a utility vehicle.
After Fox sought advice from superintendents on what to build, he worked closely with engineers, integrated supply chain and manufacturing to build a prototype.
When the test vehicle was completed, Fox took it back out to customers for another round of feedback.
Then lead engineer Jarrett Jones and his team built an alpha version of the Truckster XD to validate the design. It was back to the supers yet again for a third round of field testing.
After that, a beta concept was built, which Fox says was basically “production intent.”
Fox, Jones and others wanted to verify the vehicle’s reliability and durability and make any other changes. From beta, a gamma vehicle was built, which was even closer to the final production design.
Jones knew he had built something tougher than Clubber Lang from “Rocky III.”
“Superintendents take out trucks and use them … and use them … and use them,” Jones says.
Fox wanted users to beat up the vehicle while testing it.
The aim was to make a utility vehicle with the largest payload and the toughest bed. Other improvements include an improved approach angle and a roomier cabin,
Jones welcomed the engineering challenge, although he knew he was under pressure to deliver something bigger and better than Jacobsen’s older Cushman model, which had improved over the years but just wasn’t cutting it anymore.
“This is an entirely new product,” he says.
Fox says Jacobsen employed the “tollgate” method throughout the process, which is used throughout Textron, its parent company, at businesses like Bell Helicopter and Cessna aircraft.
The tollgate process emphasizes the use of checklists — and marking off items on them when completed — to ensure everything is done early on in the development of the product. Only when it’s confirmed that the team has successfully completed the previous phase may the tollgate move to the next phase.
“This truck is the result of a true team effort that utilized the experience, expertise and talent of so many people at Jacobsen,” Fox says. “Even though so many of us have put our heart and soul into this product, at the end of the day, it’s not our truck — it’s our customers’ truck. We’re basically giving our customers exactly what they asked for — a tough utility vehicle that can make their lives a little easier.”
Superintendent magazine’s Lawrence Aylwardmcan be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.