Here are some things about Joseph “Joe” Conrad, founder/owner of Mean Green Products, Hamilton, Ohio, we bet you didn’t know.
- As a teenager with a car addiction, Conrad took on whatever jobs he could—mowing included—to support his passion.
- He credits his father and older brother, both of whom are electrical engineers, for sparking his love of technology.
- Bit by the aviation bug, Conrad earned a bachelor’s degree in aero technology and started a business painting and rebuilding wrecked aircraft. That led Conrad to operate an airport and maintain it, including landscaping and mowing about 100 acres of grass.
- After selling most of his aviation businesses in 2007, Conrad started working on an electric car. When his gas-powered zero-turn broke while mowing a 5-acre property, he turned his attention to building a battery-powered mower.
Mean Green Lithium Energy Modules (LEMs) power your equipment. Please describe the LEM.
Each LEM is a self-contained, high-energy-density lithium battery. We combine these modules together with powerful management systems that create a high-density battery pack capable of operating mowers all day and recharging overnight. The lightweight LEM pack can cut continuously for seven hours.
Your commercial mowers are initially more expensive. How do you overcome that with contractors?
Even though our Mean Green Mowers have a higher initial cost compared to most gas-engine mowers, our mowers actually cost the commercial owner much less to own per month over the service life of the mower due to the high costs of fuel and routine maintenance of gas mowers. Also, you can finance a Mean Green 60-inch CXR ride-on mower over a five-year period, mow a yearly average of just 10 hours per week for a total loan and operating cost of just $350 per month. Do the same with a gas-engine commercial mower that is half the purchase price and you will still spend more than $500 per month for that same five-year loan, including those gas operating costs.
What other advantages does Mean Green technology offer over gasoline-powered equipment?
Zero fuel to purchase. Zero emissions. Low noise levels. Low vibrations. No toxic smells. No difficulty starting. No oil changes. No air filter changes. No spark plugs. No hydraulics. No belts or pulleys. No liquids to leak. No stopping at gas stations for fuel (charge overnight). Automatic constant blade tip speed control. Automatic power sensing drive speeds. Federal tax credits available.
What types of customers have been the biggest adopters of electric mowing so far?
Mean Green mowers are most commonly seen in high-end locations where there are a lot of people around, such as universities, schools, municipalities, hospitals, hotels, corporate headquarters, condo associations and luxury resorts.
Why haven’t other manufacturers attempted to develop and market a battery-powered commercial mower?
Most manufacturers feel if they build an electric version of their mower, it will take away from sales of their gas mowers.
Where do you see battery technology and its impact on professional turf and landscape care in five years?
Electric mowers are the future of mowing. It is no longer a matter of if but when. When I look back five years and see how far we have come, I feel confident saying the manufacturing of commercial electric mowers will be a significant factor in five years and a majority of the mowers produced within 10 years.