Matt Zaremba loved Lego building blocks as a kid. Still does. So it’s no wonder he got a job helping to design utility vehicles for Augusta, Georgia-based Textron Specialized Vehicles, the manufacturer of E-Z-GO golf cars and Cushman turf-utility vehicles. The gig is a good fit for a guy who has always enjoyed snapping things together.
“I’m like an overgrown kid,” says the 37-year-old Zaremba, the company’s director of golf product and strategy.
Zaremba, who has bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and a master’s degree in business from Emory University in Atlanta, helped design the new Cushman line of Hauler® utility vehicles, which the company debuted in August at a press event at its headquarters. The line features four vehicles built with golf-specific features to give golf course superintendents the ability to customize vehicles to their courses’ specific work demands.
For several months, Zaremba and others involved in the project spent their working days quizzing superintendents about their wants and needs in a utility vehicle. They queried more than 700 superintendents nationwide in surveys, focus groups and personal visits before setting out to design and create the vehicles, which include the Hauler 1200, Hauler 1200X, Hauler PRO and Hauler PRO-X.
“We wanted to understand their world in more detail,” Zaremba said of superintendents. “We discovered some opportunities where our products weren’t providing solutions for them. We designed the new vehicles around the operators.”
Through their research, Zaremba and his team learned how important it is to offer versatile vehicles, meaning the style must meet the maintenance budget. Improved control and durability were also big factors. Superintendents want vehicles that are easy and safe to drive and can also take a beating.
With the new line, superintendents can select from a sound-dampening 12-cubic-foot durable roto-molded polyethylene bed or upgrade to the 15-cubic-foot fully aluminum bed for extra space. The standard poly bed includes integrated divider slots to allow for increased organization and customizable bed storage. The aluminum bed features a track system that can accommodate L-track accessories or standard hardware for convenient tie-down locations and space-saving accessories.
Besides the bed, new features include:
- a standard rear hitch receiver;
- upgraded premium tires to provide traction without damaging turf;
- optional power dump for heavy lifting;
- a storage pocket and net within the poly bed to store small equipment such as a Stimpmeter; and
- optional 12-volt or USB outlets.
Zaremba believes superintendents will like the amount of space in the new design, including more leg room for comfort. Although the chassis size is the same, the floor is almost 6 inches wider.
Zaremba considered how people sit in utility vehicles. Some superintendents use their utility vehicles as mobile offices, where they kick up their feet to do paperwork.
“We talked to slouchers and upright sitters, and we knew we had to make a vehicle to fit them both,” he added.
In addition, the four vehicles include a dashboard that provides an unobstructed line of sight for the driver for navigating tight areas.
“We also designed the center area of the dash to fit a clipboard or a tablet,” Zaremba said.
The research suggested that superintendents want their utility vehicles to be discreet. It’s not that they don’t want to be seen by golfers, they just don’t want to be seen or heard driving flashy utility vehicles that could send the wrong message to golfers. Their crews won’t blend in with alloy wheels. The new Hauler was designed to be functional for maintenance chores and refined for hospitality service.
The Hauler Pro and Hauler PRO-X models feature a 72-volt AC electric drive than can go 50 miles fully loaded on a single charge. Zaremba believes superintendents prefer the quiet power and control of electric technology.
“We believe electric is the right answer for the long-term,” Zaremba added. “We’re investing heavily in it.”
The Hauler PRO can be equipped with an optional Intellibrake system that features a motor brake that automatically slows the vehicle when traveling up or down steep grades, and a parking brake that automatically engages when the vehicle stops.
Additional accessories for the line include a long-handled tool holder, tool clamps, weather enclosure, ladder/hoop rack and other bells and whistles.
Zaremba realizes he was just one of several people who had a hand in designing the new Hauler line. But, like Lego building blocks, it sure was fun.
“I’m glad to have helped build something special,” he said.