These Landscapers Are Hooked On Hooklift Trucks



Landscapers are always on the hunt for that game-changing piece of equipment that earns its worth every day and lasts for years. Don Ventling, president and founder of Landform, and Calvin Douglas, owner of Douglas Small Engine Repair, both bought a hooklift back in the 1990s, and they’re both still using those same hooklifts in their daily operations.


Founded in 1988 by Don Ventling, Landform of Fairfield, OH, stays busy all year long. In Spring and Summer, their 12-person crew is busy with mulching, mowing, pruning, weed control, and more. In Fall, they do leaf cleanup and landscaping, and in Winter, they focus on snow and ice relief services. They primarily serve commercial clients, institutions, and government agencies.

Ventling bought his first shuttle hooklift in 1993 after seeing his brother’s. “At that time, I needed a truck that would handle a lot of different jobs and serve a lot of different purposes since I was a one-man show,” says Ventling. “The Stellar Shuttle looked like a good option for one truck that could tackle many things…. My brother bought one from an auction that had a Chevy truck with a Stellar Shuttle on it, and I fell in love with the concept.”

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The Stellar NXT18 Hooklift

Ventling’s Stellar hooklift has exceeded his expectations. “It’s like having another person on our team,” he says. “It has basically replaced several trucks due to its versatility and functionality. One guy can go out with just a truck bed loaded with material and equipment and drop the bed off, do his work, load everything back up, put the bed back up on the truck and go. The functionality of this one truck is equivalent to several trucks — it reduces labor and increases productivity.”

Ventling’s hooklift has required minimal upgrades and repairs over the years. “We’ve put it on a different chassis and replaced pumps and one tilt cylinder, but those were the only parts in 30 years that I’ve had to deal with,” he says. “Then we repainted it as well. We still use the hooklift daily, and we couldn’t be happier with it.”

Douglas Small Engine

In business since 1983, Douglas Small Engine Repair is a lawnmower and landscaping equipment repair company in Rutherford County, TN. In the late 1980s, Douglas realized lawnmowers were getting bigger and heavier and he needed a solution to make picking up, hauling, and delivering his customers’ mowers and equipment easier. After all, some equipment he transports can weigh in at 1,000 to 1,500 pounds. Plus, when he picks up mowers, they are often disabled and not running. He needed a solution that could be maneuvered through crowded city streets and in tight backyards. Hauling a trailer behind a truck simply wasn’t cutting it anymore.

Douglas became acquainted with Stellar at the International Lawn and Garden Show (now called Equip Expo) and purchased his hooklift in the early 1990s. Today, Douglas appreciates that his hooklift allows one person to do the job that otherwise would require two or three employees. It allows him to pick up and drop off equipment effortlessly and efficiently.

“Picking up the mowers and equipment that are disabled makes my job so much easier,” says Douglas. “All while staying in the cab, one person can simply drag the broken-down equipment onto the bed by letting it down, where it would otherwise take two or three of us to push it onto a trailer. Every time I let that bed down, I wish I had a dollar for everyone who says, ‘Wow, I really like that,’” continues Douglas. “It gets a lot of great comments from people.”

To this day, Douglas uses the hooklift three to four times a week and more during the busy season. Of course, he knows proper maintenance is key to helping his hooklift run as efficiently as it can and making it last as long as possible. “I grease and lubricate my hooklift on a regular basis, but there’s not a lot of maintenance to it,” he says. “I’ve replaced one cylinder in the last 20 years and that was it. There was also a product upgrade in the ‘90s on the control switch that Stellar improved from the original switch system.”

For more on Stellar hooklifts, see the article “100+ Different Uses For A Hooklift.”

For more products, see “Get Equipped: Trucks, Trailers & UTVs”.