From Germany to the rest of the world

Surrounded by soft hills, lush meadows and clear rivers, the city of Bühlertann in Southern Germany can surely be described as an idyllic place. Situated near Stuttgart with a population of just over 3,000 people, it’s also home to one of the world’s leaders in outdoor power equipment. AS-Motor was founded there more than 60 years ago, and since then, the family-run company has grown its network across 45 countries.

In May 2021, AriensCo acquired AS-Motor and added the company to its roster of brands that also includes Ariens, Gravely, RapidCare, Countax and Westwood. With the purchase of AS-Motor, AriensCo not only brought on a European partner with an extensive distribution network, it also attained cutting-edge power equipment that includes a range of mowers and handheld equipment that feature remote-controls and sustainable battery technologies.

More importantly, AriensCo and AS-Motor share a strong emphasis on company culture. Both are family-owned and operated with a multi-generational history and strong ties to their hometowns. Like AriensCo, AS-Motor places high value on its workforce and many of its employees stay with the company for decades.

“It’s all about trust,” said Maria Lange, managing director of AS-Motor and granddaughter of its founder, Alfred Schefenacker.

“AriensCo and AS-Motor have had a relationship for a long time, our families go back a long way,” she said. “We have a deep mutual respect and admiration for each other’s work. Like AriensCo, we’re a tight-knit team and our employees strongly identify with what we do”

Innovation at the core

In 1959, Alfred Schefenacker was on one of his many strolls through the local vineyards when he came up with the idea of developing a lawn mower that could handle steep slopes and rocky terrain. Under the hot summer sun, the lush grass grew fast and high in the vineyards, but there was not a mower that could operate there without compromising on performance. He believed the people of the region needed something truly unique.

Schefenacker got to work on what would become the iconic Allmäher. He created a two-stroke engine for a walk-behind meadow mower that was able to handle high and dense grass, as well as steep slopes. A three-wheel concept made the first Allmäher easy to maneuver. Today,the AS-Motor product portfolio includes 11 Allmäher models, which is soon to expand with three additional electric machines. Many of the models are equipped with a cross-blade system and rear-wheel drive.

“Allmäher is still the brand name we use for our walk-behind, high-grass mowers,” Lange said. “With our 138 employees, we still manufacture the two-stroke engine here in our headquarters in Bühlertann, which is rare for a small company.”

Since the introduction of the Allmäher, the company’s product line has expanded its portfolio to include flail mulchers, instrument carriers, weed removers, disc mowers, and an assortment of walk-behind and ride-on mowers.

“Our company only releases machines with setups and features that are not currently available to the market,” Lange said. “Our research and development department is 14 people, that’s 10% of our company’s staff. Our team is consistently designing, testing, engineering, analyzing data and creating prototypes. We look at a specific challenge our customers encounter, and then we try to find a solution for it — it’s how we developed the Allmäher, and it’s how we design our products today.”

A standout example of AS-Motor innovation is remote control technology, which is currently available on its AS 940 Sherpa 4WD RC ride-on mower and AS 1000 Ovis RC flail mower. These machines excel on steep slopes that are dangerous or difficult to access, and when weather conditions are extreme, can enable operators to avoid extra physical exertion. Just as with remote control cars or drones, operators can stand a safe distance away from the mowers and control them via a handheld remote.

AS-Motor also offers electric machines with rechargeable battery technology through its complete range of “E” products (all begin with the prefix “E-”) that include walk-behind mowers, weed removers and Allmähers. The “E” range includes plenty of machines that are adequate for consumer and some professional tasks.

While its “E” range is only a first step for AS-Motor into the electric realm, it’s driven by the company’s environmental principles — another common trait it shares with AriensCo.

“From the materials used for our mowers to the packaging, we mostly use recyclable materials and avoid the usage of plastic whenever possible,” Lange said. “We’ve also always focused on sourcing locally. For instance, the steel parts for our mowers are produced by local companies.”

AS-Motor’s products are used by a wide range of customers, such as municipalities, road maintenance, commercial landscaping, forestry, and more. In Germany, half of its customers are demanding private users and pro-sumers that typically have large estates or look after private vineyards and orchards. The other half are professional landscapers. With both sets of users, the machines are known for their durability and reliability.

“Our machines are often passed on from generation to generation,” Lange said. “Our service team sometimes receives inquiries about mowers people got from their grandparents. These machines are still running after 35 years!”

International synergies

The new business relationship between AriensCo and AS-Motor provides plenty of opportunities for each company to grow and expand. AS-Motor’s strong presence in Europe is based on a solid network of distributors that sell to dealers, who then sell to machine users. In Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, AS-Motor also has its own sales team that works directly with dealers.

This network provides a strong opportunity for AriensCo to expand its products throughout Europe, particularly zero-turn mowers, which have steadily grown in popularity over the last few years. AriensCo can also expand the use of its FusionCore battery technology and the use of commercial electric mowers in the region. AriensCo also gains AS-Motor’s innovative remote-control technology and its unique range of mowers that excel in rough terrain.

“While no definitive plans have been made in regard to AriensCo and AS-Motor sharing products, technologies, distributors, and dealers, etc., it is more than fair to say that there are numerous opportunities for our two companies to collaborate and strengthen each other’s presence around the world,” Lange said. “What is most important is to ensure that both companies share a common set of goals, ethics, culture and vision in how we operate in the future.”

There is plenty in common between the companies to build a foundation on. Like AriensCo, AS-Motor has deep roots in its community. Lange represents the third generation of her family and despite the company’s growth over the years, she has managed to maintain a familiar atmosphere.

“Many of our employees stay with us for a long time and often several generations of one family work for us,” she said. “Our company hierarchy is flat, and open communication is one of our core values.”

AS-Motor takes an active role in its local community. The company sponsors the activities of a motorsports club in Bühlertann, as well as the local Karneval club (these have a very strong tradition in Southern Germany). Once a year, AS-Motor invites the club’s dancers to perform at the company’s headquarters.

AS-Motor collaborates closely with the Samariterstift charity — a partnership that has lasted for almost 10 years. This charity supports people with intellectual disabilities or who are overcoming mental health issues by helping them get back into the job market. The company hires some of the charity’s candidates and they work in the preassembly department, spare parts operation, or the company cafeteria. Some candidates gain experience and move on to other jobs, others remain at the company for the rest of their careers.

“We’re strongly committed to our region and the local community,” Lange said. “We strive to source all of our materials locally, and we engage in social programs because it’s essential that we give back to the people that support us. It’s one of the most important values we share with AriensCo.”

 

The AS-Motor Lineup

Mulching mowers

High-stability mulching units with steel cutting blades that disperse tiny grass particles to form a layer of natural fertilizer.

Professional lawn mowers

A range that includes the legendary AS 2-stroke engine and the 4WD all-wheel drive lawn mower. These reliable units rarely break down.

Allmähers

Engineered to handle meadows and steep slopes with dense grass. These perform well where brush-cutters are typically used.

Flail mowers

Handed-guided mowers with single-wheel steering that are ideal for roadside ditches or steep meadows.

Ride-on mowers

Nine different ride-on models are offered, including the Sherpa series that excels on sleep stopes and difficult terrain.

Remote-controlled mowers

Units that deliver high work efficiency, as well as reduced levels of vibration, noise and exhaust fumes.

Disc-mowers

Equipped with four knife blades, these machines are ideal for livestock breeders that manage animal fodder and hay.

By Damian Joesph

03/31/2022 | From Germany to the rest of the world

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