Ten years after adopting quiet battery-operated landscaping and lawncare equipment the pioneering Hill Top Trading in Johannesburg has grown into a large and thriving enterprise employing more than 250 people and maintaining the gardens of more than 60 residential and corporate office parks.

Amidst rising fuel prices and tougher competition in an over-traded market segment the company has grown beyond owner Richard Potter’s wildest expectations and demand for its services shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. Thanks to his magical foresight and adopting vastly different strategies to the norm the company has changed the game and left it to others to play catchup.

Among the many innovations, the company has introduced two milestone strategies that have rocketed the company to success and allowed it to take full advantage of two of the biggest trends shaping the world at present. The first and foremost strategy to switch to an all-battery fleet has played an outsized role in its success of the business and allowed it to capitalise on the trend of people moving to home offices.

Richard explains, “Before the Covid-19 pandemic we made good inroads in office parks where our quiet electric tools allow us to use battery-operated mowers, blowers and edge-trimmers without causing a disturbance to office workers. When the pandemic struck people moved their offices home and noise levels in residential complexes also became an issue and gave us a huge advantage when quoting for new business. With the inherently low-maintenance requirement of battery-powered equipment and no fuel bills our pricing also reflects these savings making our offering still more attractive.”

The second strategy that sets it apart is equally ingenious and involves storing the equipment on site rather than transporting machines to and from sites using trucks and trailers as is the norm among its peers. While the initial outlay for equipment is higher, Richard’s model is a logistical masterpiece. It eliminates the need for far more costly vehicles, trailers and fuel, while allowing him to redeploy driver positions to dedicated landscaping and garden work allowing for reduced wage bills. Storage of battery-operated equipment also eliminates the need to store fuel which is both hazardous and requires ample space for tanks and fuel transfer equipment. The model simply works best with battery-operated equipment.

Lionell Adams of Smith Power Equipment, supplier of Ego Power+ cordless equipment in South Africa, says the battery-operated equipment is becoming increasingly popular for use in estates, office parks and education facilities among users who prefer quieter operation of the equipment. Advanced battery technology means the equipment can be matched to the right battery for the required runtime which enables it to easily compete with fuelled models without the fuel bill which quickly adds up.

The Ego Power+ range consist of mowers from 46cm cutting width push mowers to large zero-turn ride-ons for larger areas and fields. Hedge trimmers, brush cutters, chainsaws and blowers among others are available and use the manufacturers own patented 56V ARC Lithium batteries. All equipment is commercial grade and is designed with tough commercial use in mind making use of the best available motors, batteries, chargers and materials available to give them the longest useful life possible.

General manager for Smith Power Equipment, Mark Chittenden, says the combination of the right equipment in the right applications to suit individual customers’ needs is critical in the success of a business. In the case of Hill Top Trading we have the right equipment to meet Richard’s ambitious needs and are extremely fortunate to be working with such an innovative company that is expanding its operations ever further.