Buyer Beware

As the economy continues to recover and Tier 4 price increases imminent, the demand for quality used turf equipment is at an all-time high. But as superintendents begin to search, they’re finding a wide variety of options and prices out there.

In the end, the old adage of “you get what you pay for” still rings true.

“There are websites out there where you can buy used equipment, but you have to be really careful,” said Rick Baker, General Sales Manager for Baker Vehicle Systems, an authorized Jacobsen dealer in Ohio. “It’s not like buying books or shoes, these machines need to be serviced. Some of these sites simply take your money, drop off your machine, and leave. You may have little or no recourse in the weeks and months that follow if things don’t go well.”

“As an authorized dealer, we are held to a higher standard by the industry and customers pay a little more for that security and peace of mind because it’s worth it,” said Baker.

Buying Certified Pre-Owned
Jacobsen recently launched its own Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program that provides customers factory-refurbished, factory-backed equipment through the company’s network of over 40 North American dealers. The company posts its CPO offering at

“The market is telling us that it wants an easy way to purchase quality used Jacobsen equipment,” said Buddy Wynn, Certified Pre-Owned Program Manager for Jacobsen. “The CPO program allows us to fulfill unmet needs and provide customers will quality products that are backed by a one-year factory warranty.”

For superintendents in the market for used equipment, – whether handheld items, mowers, aerators or even bigger equipment like tractors and skid-steer loaders – what should they be on the lookout for?

“When it comes to turf maintenance equipment like mowers and utility vehicles, ideally you want a machine that is late model and low-hour, something that still has value and life in it,” said Wynn. “You’re likely going to get the best value from a machine that’s three to six years old and less than 1,500/1,800 hours.”

Mitigating Risk
Of course, buying anything used is a risk. How can superintendents identify a mechanical migraine waiting to happen?

“It’s never easy to identify a machine that might be a problem down the road,” said Baker. “You may not know where that machine has been the past three-to-five years or how it was treated and maintained.”

“I would recommend dealing with a local dealer that is: capable of providing a thorough inspection of the equipment; has factory trained technicians that know how to repair and service it; can communicate with the factory regarding any technical issues or mechanical updates; and will stand behind it after it’s sold. As a dealer, we are very careful about the used equipment that we purchase or take on trade. It is inspected and evaluated prior to purchase to ensure we are getting what we pay for.”

Supply & Demand Economics
“Another thing to keep in mind is that the used equipment market is very reflective of supply and demand,” said Baker. “We’ve seen demand for good, late model, low-hour used equipment skyrocket in the last two years and as a result, the price of used equipment had risen significantly.”

Like automobiles, some models and brands naturally hold their value better than others. What equipment tends to hold value the best?

“We’re seeing Jacobsen large area rotaries and Cushman Turf-Trucksters hold their value very well,” said Baker. “From a factory perspective, we’re seeing a high demand for Tri-King trim mowers and SLF-1880 fairway mowers, and they are holding their value as a result,” said Wynn.

When to Buy New
Some equipment – as Baker suggests – is best to buy new.

“When it comes to greens mowers, I like to see our customers buy new,” said Baker. “Greens mowers are out there seven days a week and machine reliability is critical. Greens are the most critical turf on any course and you want to mitigate the risk of hydraulic leaks or other issues that may come with a used unit.”

“Plus, the advances that have been made in the last several years with things like the Jacobsen ECLIPSE greens mowers, the new technology alone is worth the investment.”

Finding the Best Value
Type in “used turf equipment” into Google and you’ll pull back endless pages of results. How can superintendents sort through all the noise and find the best value?

“The best value over the long-term is always going to be found at an authorized dealer,” said Wynn. “You need to know that there is someone who will back that product up with service and support. Jacobsen dealers now sell Certified Pre-Owned equipment that is rebuilt at the factory and includes a one-year factory warranty.”

But before you get started on your search, be sure to understand what kind of investment and leverage you may already have in your facility.

“Before even considering buying used equipment, you really need to evaluate what you own,” said Baker. “If your equipment is well maintained, late model and has low hours, you might be surprised at what you have in value. I wouldn’t suggest solving one mechanical problem by replacing it with another though…be careful with what you buy and find a local source that you trust.

For more information about Jacobsen used equipment, visit

Author: Adam Slick is the Public Relations & Communications Manager for Jacobsen. Slick has a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John Fisher College (Rochester, NY) and is currently working on his MBA at Colorado State University. Contact Adam at or 704.504.4867.

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