Bob Walker shares OPE industry outlook for 2011

In an Outdoor Power Equipment exclusive on Dec. 10, Bob Walker, president of Walker Manufacturing Company (Fort Collins, Colo.), provided his take on the OPE industry heading into 2011.

OPE: What is new and exciting about your company?

Bob Walker (BW): We are seeing a nice recovery of business starting in March 2010, and the recovery pattern has continued through the summer and fall. Inventories in the field are low, and dealers will be able to move into 2011 with fresh, new product with some pent-up demand from customers who have deferred purchasing during the past couple of years. The Walker product line continues to expand with new model tractors, decks and attachments, and we are continuing to make improvements on existing models — “making them better all the time.”

OPE: How will the recent mid-term elections and Republican takeover of control in the House of Representatives impact the OPE industry?

BW: More favorable legislation and policy for businesses and particularly for small businesses.

OPE: How will the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent ruling to permit use of E15 (15-percent ethanol) in model 2007-or-newer cars and light trucks impact the OPE industry?

BW: E10 continues to cause a lot of problems in the OPE industry; E15 will only make it worse. The idea of segregating fuel supplies for newer and older machines is only one of several challenges for trying to make E15 work.

OPE: What will be the biggest challenges that dealers face in 2011, and how should they handle those challenges?

BW: Probably the financial area will be the biggest dealer challenge in 2011. After the tough economic times the past couple of years, the climate for obtaining financing for business credit and consumer credit will be a challenge for many small businesses. Many dealers will experience tight credit — to operate their business, finance inventory, and help make sales to customers.

OPE: What is your overall outlook for the OPE industry in 2011?

BW: I am optimistic for the OPE industry in 2011 and expect that the business recovery cycle we are experiencing will continue.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To read what other leaders had to say about the state of the OPE industry heading into 2011, be sure to check out Outdoor Power Equipment‘s two-part “Industry Forecasts” series in the January and February 2011 issues!

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