Remote-operated mowers save California landscaper from labor shortages

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O'Connell Landscape Maintenance

Like many companies, O’Connell Landscape Maintenance, which has offices in Los Angeles, San Bernadino, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego counties, has dealt with frustrating labor shortages. However, the company has turned to remote-operated mowers as a multi-faceted solution.

Regional vice president Jim Galen says his three RC Mowers remote-operated mowers have allowed his team to power through those labor shortages. At the same time, they help him meet regulatory requirements.

“They keep our crews safe, too,” he says. “They’ve saved us a lot of time, helped with our labor costs and they’re even safe to work around irrigation equipment. Each mower saves us three men a day and shaves about two hours off many jobs.”

O’Connell is a large maintenance landscaper with more than 1,000 employees and a wide variety of services. 

Finding a solution

Galen says he first saw RC Mowers’ remote-operated mowers on a YouTube video and later in an online landscaping publication before heading to a Great American Road Show demonstration to get a real-life view of the equipment.

There, RC Mowers regional sales manager Bryan Johnson let Galen try out the robotic mowers in person.

“Bryan put the mower on a steep, grassy slope and showed me how to work the controls,” Galen says. “It just mowed the slope. There was no slippage. And, it was able to handle the tough terrain. I was very impressed.”

Galen was so impressed that he ordered two TK-60XP units and one TK-52XP. Their primary role is to clear the fuel modification areas that keep flammable brush away from residential and commercial locations. These areas are required by the various California municipalities as a safety measure and these zones allow residents to secure residential insurance coverage.

“In the past, the fire department might make us go back and clear more of the area to meet requirements, but they’ve been signing off on the areas we clear with our RC Mowers equipment pretty quickly,” Galen says. “I’ve been doing this 37 years. The fire restrictions have gotten more strict and more technologically precise, so being able to pass clearance the first time is a big deal.”

Safety first

There has also been a significant safety benefit to adopting remote-operated mowers. Galen says the equipment has kept O’Connell’s employees safer because it will mow steep and difficult terrain without the need for a human operator.

“Keeping our employees safe is always a goal we work toward,” he continues. “Now that we don’t have employees riding or working on rough terrain, it prevents a lot of injuries.”

Galen says O’Connell uses its RC Mowers products on everything from retention basins to drainage ditches and other rough terrain. He says the mower is light enough to get into areas where the company’s other equipment can’t go but stable enough to tackle just about any slope.

“We’re noticing the labor savings and the capacity,” Galen sums up. “They have just been a great addition to our fleet.”

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