Vision and Mission
Our Company (back to top)
From humble beginnings in 2002, through present day, Choo Choo Lawn Equipment has been focused strictly on the needs of it's customers. With over 22-years experience in both Landscape Maintenance and Lawn Care, Choo Choo Lawn Equipment offers customers the best of both worlds; quality lawn equipment from the industry's best manufacturers, and expert advice and guidance in all aspects of Landscape Maintenance, and Lawn Care.
Vision and Mission (back to top)
Our corporate vision & mission statement.
Our History (back to top)
Commercial Dealer Magazine - June 2006 Article
"Dealing From Experience"
Danny Scofield was a bit surprised when Gravely called him to sit on a panel comprised of other dealers. After all, he was only five months into owning Choo Choo Lawn Equipment, his Plant City, Fla., dealership, and it was his first. "I first thought to myself, ‘Why on earth would they want me to be a part of this?’ since I was so new to the business," he says. In fact, Scofield spent the previous 17 years owning a landscaping business, which at its height employed 45 people and grossed more than $1.5 million annually.
"They wanted my experience as a landscaper to help them," the 50-year-old Scofield says. He says this experience has been invaluable in serving the needs of contractors. "When a landscape contractor comes in, I know what they need. I know what they’ve been through. When a mower goes down, they’re out of business." But had it not been for Scofield’s wife, Teresa, he might not have gotten into the business at all. After all it was Teresa who bought a used push mower in 1986 and began mowing in the neighborhood. "She basically just got bored and was going to mow lawns," says Scofield, a mechanic by training. "I kind of laughed about it at first, but then I grabbed a pencil and did the numbers." And he liked the numbers. Within six months, he sold another business he was part of and concentrated on the landscape business.
Making the change
Fast-forward to 2002. Now, Choo Choo Lawn Maintenance, as the Scofields' landscaping business was named, had 45 employees. "We grew fairly quickly," he says. But Scofield was looking for something new. "I got kind of burned out in the lawn business," he says. "You have a lot of turnover." He felt he would have more control owning a dealership than the contracting business.
He thought back to an experience he had as a new landscape contractor. Scofield was eyeing a used Gravely mower, with no more than 50 hours on it, at a local dealership. The dealer told him if he bought that mower, he would take care of Scofield for the life of that mower and beyond. The dealer came through on his promise. Scofield says the experience became the framework for how he would operate his dealership.
He opened Choo Choo Lawn Equipment in 2002, but continued to maintain his landscaping business. Initially, at least, that made it hard to attract commercial clientele. "When I first got into this business, the landscapers would not come to me because I was competition with them out there in the field," Scofield says. "So, they figured if they bought parts from me, they were giving me money to go out there and take their accounts away from them."
So, in order to get some cash flow going, he began approaching mass merchants in order to secure their repair business. When clients came into the stores, those stores outsourced the repair work to Scofield. There was about a year of overlap where he owned both the landscaping business and dealership. He decided it was time to sell.
So, he cashed out by selling the landscape business and concentrated on the dealership. "When I sold my landscaping business, that’s when the landscape contractors started coming in," Scofield says. "I spent a lot of time designing the building and making sure it was customer-friendly," Scofield says. What he got was a 13,000-square-foot dealership, featuring a 4,800-square-foot showroom and a modern repair shop outfitted with gadgets that only a tech would love, like the $20,000 machine that sharpens saw chains in minutes.
He admits some people scoffed at the machine at first. "At first, people looked at it and said, ‘There’s no way you can justify buying a $20,000 machine," Scofield says. Even though he does sharpen a lot of chains, it would take quite a few sharpenings to pay off the machine. But it wasn’t the allure of owning a high-tech machine or bragging rights that propelled him to buy it.
"The machine will pay for itself by turning that tech loose" on more important tasks and repairs, Scofield says. "That was my reason in getting it." After all, time spent sharpening a chain for $8 is time techs aren’t working on larger equipment or issues. The machine’s close proximity to the tech’s workbench makes the deal even sweeter.
Scofield prides himself on operating a clean, modern showroom and repair shop. Three techs make up Choo Choo’s repair crew, though Choo Choo’s manager and Scofield are also on-hand for repairs if the shop gets swamped. All the techs have overhead air, grease and oil dispensers for a clean, modern workspace. They also have overhead cranes to lift equipment. The shop area features a tagging system to track equipment brought in for repair. All equipment is tagged and taken to a holding area and as equipment is worked on and pulled from the tables, more equipment replaces it.
"If it’s a commercial piece, it goes to the front of the line," Scofield says. In less than 30 minutes, a contractor will either know when the equipment will be done or the repairs will be completed, or they’ll get a loaner. "I try to guarantee a 24-hour turnaround for the repair" once the contractor gets a
loaner, Scofield says. "We try to do everything we can to get that mower turned around."
Scofield's (Gravely) dealer representative, Les Curtner, praises Choo Choo's business. The facilities he maintains are in impeccable order," Curtner says. "He’s got the latest equipment in his shop." Of particular note, Curtner says, are meters that measure every drop of oil and fluid used during servicing, so Scofield has an accurate detail on what products were used. At the end of the day, Scofield has an exact tally of the profit and loss for that day, instead of at the end of the week or end of the month. "These are processes he’s put in place in order to do this," Curtner says. He tracks everything and sets goals for his service department to achieve."
Scofield believes dealers won’t survive if they look like the dealerships of just a few years ago. He says many were dirty, dank and uninviting. "We have a lot of women come in here. If the facility’s not clean and inviting, they’re not going to come back," he says. Scofield admits he thought running a dealership would be a little easier, because, like with many things, running a business often looks easy when it’s done right and by someone who is experienced. "You’ve got to stay on top of things," he says.
Scofield credits Gravely’s Dealer Council Board, on which he was invited to sit when he started the business, for giving him a leg up. It was a chance to meet 400 to 600 other dealers in Wisconsin four times a year to talk shop and keep apprised of industry happenings. He sat on the board from 2003 to 2004. Dealers didn't worry about competing with each other and talked candidly about issues. "We talk quite a bit. We ask each other questions about all types of things and say, ‘What are you doing about this?’" he says.
But Scofield says his biggest resource has come from Curtner, his dealer representative. For the past four years, Curtner has been assigned to Scofield’s business to help answer questions and provide advice on a range of topics. "They’re the best people who can help you. He’s been very helpful," he says. "If I’m going to tackle something new that I’ve never done before, I ask him first," Scofield says. "If he doesn’t know, he’ll get the answer for me." Curtner has been Scofield’s dealer rep for four years. Curtner praises Scofield’s work to get both institutional and governmental clients to increase his repair business. Scofield has secured numerous contracts whereby agencies outsource their service work to Choo Choo. "He makes his services available at any time," Curtner says. "It’s something that some dealers overlook. It’s just another avenue he’s looking to for revenue."
That revenue has come from several correctional facilities in the Hillsboro County, Fla., area. Scofield says it just seemed like a good idea to approach institutional and governmental clients. "We just went out there. Nobody seemed to go after that kind of work. No one really seemed interested in it," Scofield says. "We ended up getting quite a bit of work from them," adding Choo Choo secured the work of another correctional facility in another county about a month ago. "Once you do one of them, the other finds out about it and they call us." Scofield says he accepts the work, but only if the client is within a reasonable distance. That's because Choo Choo's will pick up, repair, and deliver the equipment.
Curtner helped Scofield get his first open house up and running. Curtner offered advice on advertising as far as where to spend it and how much to spend. "If I want to bring in another line, I talk to him," Scofield says. "Gravely is very family-oriented. I would not be where I am today without Gravely." Dan Ariens attended Choo Choo’s first open-house and spent the day there. "He said, ‘Look, what can I help you with today?’" Scofield remembers. "I know that if I had asked him to unpack some chain saws, he would have done it." Scofield met Ariens during the Wisconsin meetings with other dealers. "I just got real close to him," Scofield says. "He would eat lunch with us and we have a very good relationship."
At least one aspect of Choo Choo’s business has literally been "door-to-door." It came during the height of several hurricanes and tropical storms in 2005. "When the storms are getting closer, I stock up on generators," Scofield says. During one particular storm that swept across Naples, he saw on the news there was an immediate need for generators. Power was out. He told his wife and the next morning they stocked up a truck with generators and drove 175 miles south to Naples. By the time they arrived, they found that people had enough generators. As he was leaving Naples to return to Plant City, he got a call from a local sheriff who needed generators. Scofield brought receipts in order to show what he paid and ensure the locals know he wasn’t trying to price-gouge.
"I sold all those generators and went back to the dealership and got more and went back," he says.
Urban sprawl reaches out
Choo Choo’s location near Interstate 4, between Lakeland and Tampa, Fla., has been ideal. When he moved to the Plant City area years ago, he was trying to get away from urban sprawl and everybody else that comes with it. Moving there did the trick. But Plant City has become like many other communities along the interstates in Florida and elsewhere in the country: They’re essentially blending together into one large urban area. Other than direct mail advertising and some radio spots in the past, Choo Choo’s location is what drives customers to the business. "In this type of business, they tend to come to you," he says.
Choo Choo’s features Gravely, Cub Cadet (and) Cub Cadet Commercial, Briggs & Stratton, Stihl and Kawasaki lines. About 60 percent of the dealership’s business is residential customers who are looking for commercial-grade equipment, while the rest are commercial buyers. "What I’ve noticed is that homeowners are buying more commercial-grade mowers and equipment," he says. Homeowners who are shopping at his dealership are craving the kind of expertise they can’t get at big box stores or mass merchants, Scofield says. "The guys on the floor know more about the equipment than the mass merchants."
Scofield is planning a two-pronged approach to expansion. On the traditional side, he’s looking to buy out another dealer because it’s difficult to start a business from scratch. He’s also looking to expand his reach through satellite locations. The satellites would feature a showroom with a parts room. Customers could drop off equipment for repairs and that equipment would be shuttled back to the main dealership.
Curtner says Scofield’s willingness to consider and embrace new ideas has helped his business flourish. "Danny’s very open-minded and willing to explore any suggestion that might seem to give him an advantage." Article courtesy of Commercial Dealer Magazine, June 2006
Quality Assurance (back to top)
Our promise of consistency, reliability and highest quality business practices.
Our Facility (back to top)
Our state-of-the-art 13,000 sf. facility is situated on 3.5 acres, in the heart of Plant City, FL. Our front door is literally a "stone's throw" away from one of Central Florida's most active railroads.
With over 70,000 parts in stock, representing nearly 30 product lines, Choo Choo Lawn Equipment is one of the region's most complete outdoor power equipment parts center.
Our online database contains nearly 600,000 parts records! All of which are available to ship on a daily basis. We are served by 13 major parts warehouses across the USA.
Find what you're looking for quickly, and accurately. If you need help on part selection, or not sure a particular part fits your equipment, contact our Customer Service department.
* Shipping days are expressed as business days, and are based on our most current information. In rare cases, actual shipping dates may vary. Weights shown are billable shipping weights, and may not reflect actual product weight.