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Masters of turf maintenance

Decades of nurturing relationships with greenkeepers and groundsmen has led to a unique connection between sports facilities across the country with Toro turf equipment which supplies the vast majority of equipment to them either exclusively or as part of a mixed fleet.

In these tight-knit communities word-of-mouth is King and is one of the prime reasons for the equipment’s great success. Considering the manufacturer’s long history and undying commitment to quality, the brand is all too aware that the same word-of-mouth that helped build the brand locally can just as easily be used against it should the company “drop the ball” in either of these areas.

For this reason custodianship of the world’s most valuable turf care brand In South Africa falls to Smith Power Equipment, which has proudly represented the brand for more than thirty years and continues to exercise the same levels of dedication today as it did back in 1980s when it took on Toro distribution for the southern African region.

Trust relationship

Smith Turf’s brand manager for Toro, Bruce Chambers, explains just why the relationship between turf equipment supplier and greenkeepers and groundsmen is such a special one: “Imagine as a greenkeeper your entire reputation and livelihood is wrapped in the way you prepare and nurture your lawns and maintain your surrounds?

“Every decision is a measured one where technical advice and input is valued. Due to the long preparation cycles involved in grounds and green preparations there is little room to correct errors and wrong equipment choices can derail the best efforts of the best keepers. Whereas TORO’s entire focus is on equipment to maintain perfect turfs and superb grounds,” says Bruce.

Mark Chittenden who is Smith Turf’s general manager, says the team are also consummate professionals when it comes to advising on the right tools for the job and where necessary can span in the best efforts of the American manufacturers teams across the globe should challenges arise that have not encountered locally before. Considering the extreme care that is required on greens or pitches where cutting heights may be between 2-4mm and blade speeds can make the difference between clean cuts or unsightly dead ends it is easy to understand the value of professional advice.

Turf solutions

“There is an enormous range of solutions to choose from and we have to work closely with our customers to get to the root of their requirements. Types of grass, seasonal climatic conditions, match requirements, foot and equipment traffic and available resources are usually the place to start – then we get into the real nitty gritty of the work and look at expectations and challenges of the club or facility.

“Our aftersales service has to be on-the-ball at all times and understand our groundsmen and greenkeepers needs. As with them, there is no place for complacency and our team’s mission is to identify and remedy equipment problems as quickly as we can. Our point of departure is always to make the groundsman’s life easier and to make them look good in the eyes of the club and of the sportspeople they serve.

“At face value this type of customer service looks easy and seamless, but it is not and takes a mammoth effort on our behalf to ensure the logistics can back up our best efforts. At our head office in Johannesburg that means careful warehousing of the spares and parts needed to keep every machine in the fleet working optimally. Supply chains need to reach every corner of our territory timeously and our dealers need to be stocked, trained and share the same passion as we do in serving our Toro products,” explains Bruce.

Sporting choice

The range in southern Africa includes high technology greens mowers with precision controls for the finest cuts, fairway, trim and surround, as well as rough mowers. It includes various utility vehicles, sprayers, bunker rakes, aeration and cultivation, as well as debris management equipment. Top dressers and speciality equipment is also available. Although golf courses have the most diverse requirement, combinations of these machines are widely used by other sports facilities, estates, schools and office parks where the same care and attention is applied by the team from Smith Turf.

“Toro is among the oldest and most respected brands in the turf industry and it is our pleasure to work with the country’s turf specialists to ensure they have the best tools at their disposal to provide worldclass grounds, lawns and gardens to be proud of. In many ways, I guess, we are a supporter of every team and every sportsman that uses these facilities in South Africa – and we could not be prouder to be of service,” Mark finishes.