Fiskars Taking Conservative Approach to Propane Technology
It’s rare when we would tell someone not to immediately embrace new technologies that are obviously more environmentally friendly than the alternative. That’s exactly the advice we gave Joe Sanchez of South Beach recently, however.
Joe wanted our opinion about the propane powered blower developed by Lehr, a southern California company launched by Bernardo Herzer. Herzer’s big idea, heralded by Popular Mechanics magazine and others when it hit the market in 2009, was to manufacture power equipment that runs on propane from canisters rather than gasoline poured from a can. Spills are eliminated, as are most emissions and pollution associated with small engines. Lehr was even honored with an EPA Clean Air Excellence award for its new invention and retail giant Sears immediately brought in the new line, which is where Joe Sanchez was thinking of shopping this weekend.
So why wait?
The answer has to do with Peter Thorwöste, who came up with his own great idea back in 1649. The Finn wanted to create the best ironworks company in a nation known for uncompromising quality. In three and a half centuries in business, Fiskars has brought Peter Thorwöste’s principles worldwide — including some of the highest quality gardening tools on the planet.
In June of this year, Fiskars announced it had licensed the Lehr technologies. Rather than just slapping its logo on the Lehr line, however, the company went back to the drawing board. Challenging its own engineers to make a good idea better, Fiskars plans to re-launch a propane line trimmer (weed whacker) in 2011 and then follow with a blower, mower and other implements thereafter. The Fiskars line of tools, no doubt, will correct a few ergonomic deficiencies of the Lehr machines that were somewhat awkward to use.
Meanwhile, Sears and others will sell through existing inventories of their Lehr tools. While these aren’t bad by any means, shoppers should know that a better mousetrap, if you will, is right around the corner.
By licensing the Lehr technology, Fiskars has essentially made a full-blown move into the lawn sector. In giving the reel mower its first true engineering upgrade in a century, the company’s Momentum mowers were a huge hit this year. The company’s “Uproot” weeder, likewise, is a significant step ahead of other similar handtools such as the “WeedHound” and others.
By keeping the focus on quality, the lawn tools will be a boon for professionals as well as homeowners — and yet another great step in the direction of sustainability in the back yard.