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Wheel horse / Toro

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Was toro really in competition with Wheel Horse?  Did they have a Garden tractor before they bought Wheel Horse?  It seems like Wheel Horse completed their lineup.

Edited by jellyghost
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56 minutes ago, jellyghost said:

...  It seems like Wheel Horse completed their lineup.

 

That's the way I remember it.  It's probably in the book. :)

 

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It's called the three "Cs"...competition, consolidation, retirement, taxes, economy.  :occasion-xmas::USA:

 

At least it was not Craftsman (Sears). 

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For financial reasons and Cecil's son not being interested it was sold to AMC in 1974. It was really just big business from then on. In 1982 it was sold to Munn Investment Group. Finally in 1986 Toro acquired Wheel Horse. Personally, since the Ponds no longer owned Wheel Horse I feel that Toro was the best move that could have happened. I doubt they would have been around until 2007 or the design completely changed (severely cheapened) if they hadn't. There's a nice blurb about it in a book written by the CEO of Toro. :)

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14 hours ago, stevasaurus said:

It's called the three "Cs"...competition, consolidation, retirement, taxes, economy.  :occasion-xmas::USA:

 

At least it was not Craftsman (Sears). 

Ahhh Steve I think it Crapsman. LOL.

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Toro acquired both Wheel Horse and Lawn-Boy, hoping to keep those high-end brands alive. They covered market segments where Toro wasn't as strong; Toro didn't have any garden tractor presence, and Wheel Horse also brought a line of smaller but well-engineered lawn tractors and alternate rear-engine riders to their lineup. Lawn-Boy was kind of its own special segment with two-cycle push mowers and a strong brand loyalty that extended into the commercial sector. (I usually saw more commercial Lawn-Boy mowers than Toro trimmer mowers in commercial service back in the day.) Toro supported the engineering efforts to carry the Wheel Horse line into the 300, 400, and 500 lines plus develop the 5xi, and they were the ones that brought Lawn-Boy into the modern age with the oil-injected/piston-ported "M" series 2-cycle mowers. They were very much trying to grow and build those brands. Unfortunately, economic downturns that favored the rise of cheap commodity equipment, a decline in popularity of gardening on a scale big enough to induce people to need GTs, engine emission regulations, plus the rise of zero-turns across pro and homeowner use, all really turned the market upside-down.

 

Today, SCUTs have eaten into the garden tractor market and cheap commodity lawn "tractors"/riding mowers have gobbled up the homeowner market. Zero-turns dominate the turf care industry. Emissions regulations killed 2-cycle mowers. In the end, Toro's two big acquisitions went from being important assets to a mostly dead market. Toro actually protected the Wheel Horse brand by not applying it to anything that didn't have a genuine Wheel Horse engineering legacy. Unfortunately, there's no way to fit genuine Wheel Horse into Toro's modern lineup. So the brand remains dormant. Lawn-Boy still has name recognition, and just survives as re-branded Toro homeowner mowers. The "M" series deck lives on though, in slightly modified/updated form as one of Toro's (expensive) pro line trimmer mowers.

 

Toro spent money and had plans to cultivate those brands and build themselves into a "family" of reputable names. Economics and outside market forces changed all that.

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