Asking the Experts

New Holland Construction

Jorge DeHoyos, Brand Marketing
Manager of Skid Steers


1. Can you give me a little history about your company and the skid steer market?

New Holland has been a pioneer of skid steers since the early 1970s.
The L35 was the first model built. We claimed the term Super Boom soon
after that with other models. We believe this to be the first lineup of
vertical lift machines in the market. New Holland skid steers continue
to be upgraded as the demand increases for more power in a smaller
machine, aesthetics and the need for better operator comfort. We’ve
introduced models with higher horsepower and introduced a new lineup of
compact track loaders. New Holland has standardized features such as
suspension seats, a wider wheelbase and a low center-of-gravity for
better operator comfort.

2. How many skid steers were sold in 2003? 2004? 2005?

Our forecasting group lists the North American skid steer industry as
approximately 57,000 in 2003 and 65,500 in 2004. We’re projecting a
slight increase in 2005 to 66,500. The compact track loader population,
we believe, has multiplied tremendously. Although that market is not
currently reported accurately, I have seen figures ranging from 16,000
to 22,000 this year. I’m sure this has slowed down some of the skid
steer market growth.

3. Do you see any declining markets for skid steer loaders?

There are some flat markets, such as rental, highway and bridges, but
we don’t see a noticeable decline in any market. In machine size
segmentation, the smaller sizes [under 700 lbs of capacity] also appear
to be flat with some moderate decline. The walk-behind models [compact
utility loaders] are difficult to measure, but appear to be the major
cause of that decline.

4. Which are the more popular machines — radial or
vertical lift skid steers? Why?

In a recent independent research study, we found that it is not
completely clear that buyers understand the difference between radial
and vertical lift patterns. What buyers do understand, however, are
terms such as reach, height and stability. New Holland promotes the
Super Boom line as reaching farther and higher vs. simply a vertical
lift machine. There are some radial lift machines that have respectable
reach and height specifications. The machines that can accomplish those
highly sellable traits will be more popular among landscapers, material
handlers and some residential construction customers.

5. Do you think compact track loaders (also called rubber track loaders) will have a big impact on skid steer sales in 2006?

Compact track loaders will most definitely have an impact on skid
steers, mini excavators and loader backhoes. For skid steers
particularly, we can estimate the ratio of skid steers to compact track
loaders will be four to one next year; compared to a nine to one ratio
five years ago.

6. Do you see compact wheel loaders affecting skid steer sales at all?

This can be debated — and has been debated over the last few years —
especially with some skid steer producers building units with
capacities way above 3,000 lbs. Compatibility of attachments makes
cannibalization more probable. The skid steer fans will tell you,
however, that compact wheel loaders lack the agility, mobility, compact
size and fast cycle times associated with skid steers. In some
applications, such as material handling, the compact wheel loader will
make a dent in the large skid steer segment. Fortunately for the skid
steer producers, that segment size is small.

John Deere Construction & Forestry Division

Gregg Zupancic, Product Marketing Manager
for Skid Steers & Compact Track Loaders


1. Tell us about John Deere’s skid steer lineup today.

John Deere has been in the business since 1998 and has sold tens of
thousands of skid steers and compact track loaders over the past few
years. Our line of equipment is known for providing the industry’s most
productive products with high uptime designed features at a low daily
operating cost to the customer.

2. Which companies have the biggest market share for skid steer loaders in the North American market today?

Bobcat is the share leader in skid steers and John Deere has gained
significant market share in the past few years, closing in on the
number two position at an extremely fast pace.

3. What growth markets do you see for skid steers?

The construction industry and the landscape industry have been the main
economic highlights for most of this century. These segments offer the
largest growth potential for the light equipment market segment in 2006
and beyond.

4. Do you see skid steers getting bigger or smaller?

We believe that you will see a few competitors adding some larger
models to their line over the next year or so to match the size and
power of the 332 model that Deere has been selling since 2001. However,
we do not believe that machines will go much larger than 3,200 lbs of
rated operating capacity because those machines would no longer possess
the traits or dimensions of how a skid steer is supposed to act or
operate. In addition, many customers will move past an extremely large
skid steer to a wheel loader that will better meet their higher
capacity and performance needs.

5. How have creature features changed over the years?

During the late 1990s, most consumers were looking for a low cost skid
steer to operate like a mechanized wheel barrow. Today, customers are
increasingly moving to skid steers as their primary piece of
operational equipment with creature comforts including enclosed cabs,
heat and air conditioning, suspension seat, 12-volt systems and push
button Quik-Tatch.

6. Is self-leveling popular?

The self-level option tends to be popular with the low hour or weekend
users. Professional operators tend to go without the self-level option
because it tends to get in the way of high productivity applications.

Bobcat Co.

Mike Fitzgerald, Loader Product Specialist


1.
With so many manufacturers in the skid steer market, what is Bobcat
doing to become a bigger brand in the North American skid steer
marketplace?

Bobcat
continues to introduce new technologies to separate itself from the
competition, like selectable joystick controls with speed management,
the industry-leading chaincase and a hydraulically driven SmartFAN.
Bobcat still offers exclusive features including the only skid steer
loader with no chain adjustments required, and the only skid steer
loader with a transversely mounted engine.

2. How many skid steers do you sell in your lineup today?

Bobcat currently manufactures 10 skid steer loaders, including vertical
and radial lift path configurations with rated operating capacities
from 700 to 3,000 lbs.

3. Give me a price range for skid steer loaders — from the smallest to the largest.

The smallest would be the Bobcat 463 skid steer loader with a 36-in.
construction and industrial bucket, costing around $16,474. The largest
would be the S300 skid steer loader with an 80-in. construction and
industrial bucket, costing $35,545.

4. Is self-leveling popular?

Yes, self-leveling is a popular option for Bobcat skid steer loaders
for those applications that have a need to keep the attachment level.
This feature is utilized when handling palletized material or to keep a
bucket attachment level while it is lowered or raised.

5. Is the skid steer attachment industry growing?

As
the popularity and growth of skid steer loaders continues, so does the
attachment industry. Bobcat manufactures more attachments — both in
type and quantity — than any skid steer loader or third-party company
in the market with more than 75 unique attachments.

Gehl Co.

Kelly Moore, Product Manager of
Skid Loaders and Compact Track Loaders

 

1. Can you give me a little history about your company and the skid steer market?

Gehl began its first entry into the skid loader market in 1969 with an
outside manufactured single model skid loader. We began our first
manufacturing of a loader in 1973 and continued to this point now with
a full family line of seven models into 2006. Primarily starting in the
agricultural markets, Gehl skid loaders have expanded into construction
markets worldwide. We currently have seven models ranging from 35 hp
and 1,050-lb capacity to 115 hp and 3,675-lb capacity units. Our
loaders are known for ease of operator control with our Gehl T-Bar
hands-only control system, comfortable operators cabs, ease of service
and maintenance with tip back ROPS and powerful drive torque in every
model.

2. When did skid steer sales peak?

Skid loader sales would have peaked in 2000 with approximately 71,000 sold in North America.

3. How many skid steers do you think will be sold in 2006?

For 2006 projections, it is difficult to assess, but based on overall
business conditions and the economy, it appears there will be slight
growth into the New Year. The markets for skid loaders will remain the
same — general construction first, then landscaping, private users,
rental and agricultural.

4. What is the most popular size of skid steers?

The most popular sizes in skid loaders are generally in the 1,700-lb
size units as customers are moving up in sizes for more load capacity,
performance, lift height ability and power. The price range for this
series would be in the range of $25,000 to $27,000. The range of skid
loader prices would be generally from approximately $20,000 to $50,000.

5. What kind of engine options do contractors have when buying a skid steer?

Contractors have many options in engines when buying a skid loader
because of the variety of engines used by loader manufacturers today.
In Gehl units,

customers have an option of either a naturally
aspirated or turbo engine in two loader models for additional customer
selection.

Case Construction Equipment

Jim Hughes, Brand Marketing Manager
for Skid Steers


1. Tell us about Case’s skid steer product line today.

Today’s Case skid steer loaders have rated operating capacities that
range from 1,500 lbs [the 410 model] to 3,000 lbs [the 465 model]. They
come in both vertical and radial lift geometries. Case currently has
eight models in its skid steer loader lineup — the 410, 420, 430, 440,
435, 445, 450 and 465. Case machines are known for: increased
productivity, which means putting more money in your pocket;
outstanding operator comfort and ease of operation, which increases
productivity; easy service access, increasing uptime and making daily
service easier; and a robust design, which increases machine life and
lowers repair costs.

2. What have been the major market evolutions in the skid steer industry over the last two years?

Low effort controls and operator comfort are big advances in skid steers. Not only that, but engine

horsepower and breakout force have also significantly improved.

3. Which are the more popular machines — radial or
vertical lift skid steers?

It really depends on your application. If you are looking for a lift
and carry machine — like loading dump trucks — you want a vertical lift
machine. It allows for easier dumping to the center of a dump truck. If
you are primarily using the skid steer for digging, you could use a
radial lift machine.

4. Give me a price range for skid steer loaders —
the smallest to the largest.

Case skid steer loaders range have a list price from $27,000 to $56,000.

5. Skid steers have never really caught on big in Europe. Why is that?

The Europeans have a tendency to use compact wheel loaders in place of
skid steer loaders because compact wheel loaders are more comfortable
to operate than skid steer loaders — even though they may not be as
productive or versatile. Also, size of the skid steer loaders could be
an issue as the smaller skid steers are more popular over in Europe
than the larger units. They are a little more maneuverable and can fit
in the tighter work areas found in Europe.

Keith Gribbins is managing editor of Compact Equipment.

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