At Bad Boy Mowers in Batesville, Arkansas, the folks really love their work. The pride in their all-American designed and made products is obvious, not to mention the image of their rugged, striking-looking machines.
Zac Crowl, vice-president of engineering, is in his eighth year at Bad Boy Mowers and heads up the research and development team, designing new product and testing current product. A qualified engineer, he spoke with Australian Farm Machinery in April.
Zac Crowl, vice-president of
engineering at Bad Boy Mowers.
Background of Bad Boy’s Mowers
It is easy to assume that most of the design team are engineers and the guys on the floor are mechanics by trade. In reality, there is a healthy mix of men and women from all backgrounds.
“I’m the actual only engineer in my department,” said Zac. “I’ve got computer drafters, degree drafters, and the other guys have done mechanical things their whole life. Worked on their own stuff. You need to understand how a mower works. Understand the mechanics of a vehicle.
“It’s not super complicated – as we always say, you’re only making tall grass, short – so you can over-complicate things as an engineer. The guys I’ve got have been with Bad Boy for as long as me, in some cases longer, and they’ve been pivotal in making these things a success.”
Mowing with an attitude!
“From the beginning one of the things that put Bad Boy on the map was the way we looked,” said Zac. “Everybody else’s mowers looked sad and didn’t make you want to get out and mow.
“People buy our mowers now and they just can’t wait to mow. They’re mowing their neighbour’s yard; they’re mowing the mother-in-law’s yard. The mower goes in the garage and the BMW sits outside! We take a lot of pride in our look.”
Capturing attention and market share
For a relatively young company, Bad Boy’s presence in the U.S. has grown rapidly. Whether through sponsorship of popular sporting events or high-profile celebrity endorsements, Bad Boy Mowers has succeeded in capturing attention and keeping it.
The second part – keeping it – is the challenge. For Zac, it comes down to quality, pure and simple.
“It’s the passion that the employees have about the product,” Zac said. “The guys and gals who build these take a lot of pride in what they do.
“Obviously, we’ve gotten bigger, and must be more lean and more efficient, but when it comes down to it, we’re a bunch of guys who like to build heavy, strong, powerful mowers that can compete with anything else.”
One of the catch phrases in Bad Boy’s marketing is that their machines are ‘proudly overbuilt and over engineered’. In the cut-throat American market, it’s about staying one step ahead.
“A lot of our people have worked here since the beginning,” said Zac, “and they understand what we want to see in our mowers. Sometimes we test these things in absurd situations because we want them tough and when we build things, we don’t want them to break.
“We’re always learning and trying to make things stronger. Then there’s the other side – the need to be cost sensitive – and we’re competing against many other companies. So, we’ve found ways to get around that, keep building them strong and not sacrificing any of the quality.”
Quality control processes that are second to none
Test, test and test again is Bad Boy’s mantra. With a blend of automation, robotics, human skills and sensors, each and every zero turn mower is cut, shaped, engineered, powder-coated and tested to the most exacting standards..
“The process is ever evolving and changing,” Zac said. “We’ve got more quality guys, more extensive fixtures and more robots welding to ensure consistency and give the operators a new type of control over the quality of welds.
“Plus, we have more inspection stations to make sure that things aren’t missed – and that’s through the entire assembly process. Then there’s a vision sensor system at the end that the machines run through, checking for anything and everything.
“As the process moves down the line, we have DC torque guns that we’re recording data from that can be pulled up and monitored. When the mower starts down the line, you know where it is the entire time until it’s delivered to the dealer.”
Exporting Bad Boy Mowers to Australia
Partnering with PFG Australia is a first for Bad Boy in terms of a wholesale export effort. Now that negotiations are done, it’s a matter of gearing up and delivering.
“There’s awareness throughout the plant,” said Zac. “Pete [Peter Ballantyne], our CEO, he’s very good about keeping everybody abreast of what’s going on and what’s happening with Bad Boy and people know that their mowers are going overseas.
“There’s a couple of lines of them sitting out in the parking lot right now, getting ready to go to the shipping department so people see, hey, these are the Australia mowers. We’re excited for you all in Australia and excited to see where it goes.”
For more information please call 1800 959 690 or visit www.badboy-mowers.com.au