As I’ve mentioned before, I was fortunate enough to be picked as one of the Saturday6 by Troy-Bilt. For the event, Troy-Bilt flew 6 garden bloggers (meet everyone here) to Cleveland to visit the Troy-Bilt headquarters, learn about the way they do business, play with some products, enjoy some awesome food, and learn about the Chef’s Garden, a local business centered around using old-fashioned methods to farm hard-to-find varieties of food for chefs around the country.
The first day of the event, everyone was to meet at the Troy-Bilt HQ in the AM for a tour of the facility. Unfortunately, because of my giant plane trip debacle after my work trip, I didn’t get there until lunch time. (Sidenote: since I have now revealed my pregnancy, I can admit that missing the plant was probably 50% due to me sitting facing the wrong way at the terminal, and 50% due to me probably being in the bathroom enjoying some morning sickness when they called my name as a missing passenger. ugh.) Fortunately, all I missed was the official introduction portion of the day, so I was able to quickly eat some lunch and join everyone for the tour.
Everyone these days is all about “Made in America.” The company is totally American in its story: products are designed and assembled in the US, depending on which product, they are made in Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Arizona plants [edit from earlier - I had some info wrong since I missed that first session!]. It was started in the early 1930s by the family who still is on its advisory board today. As it got bigger, it slowly expanded, which is evident when taking a tour of the beautiful grounds of MTD (the parent company). Our tour guides pointed out the buildings that used to be the ‘main building,’ and explained how new things were built as the company grew.
As further evidence of the family vibe of the company, there is a giant Oak tree on the property that is said to have been there when the first MTD buildings were built, Now, on a pathway that leads by that Oak, are lots of little saplings, each representing a grand-child (or great-grandchild) born to the family, complete with a name plaque. The vision is to eventually have the entire long line of property lined with trees.
So anyway, back to the tour. First they took us through the main office, where all of the creative types do their thing. All of the design, testing, modeling, modification, and advertising for the company is done at the Cleveland HQ. They had several models lined up for us to check out, including one with a pretty cool custom chrome paint job they’re testing out, and another small mower model that was actually just made of styrofoam!
They also demonstrated how they test for usability (using their pretty cute “new guy” who was volunteered to wear the hilarious suit). The suit severely limits your mobility in all ways – vision, strength, grip, flexibility, and comfort – and can be adjusted to various levels. While of course they can’t design all their materials to accommodate all levels of mobility, they do design to accommodate most of them. And they also rely on customer feedback.
Actually, a great example of that is their TB57 trimmer. It’s actually how I first got involved with the company: I won the trimmer in a Twitter contest. Several other people also got the item, and though I didn’t have to, I reviewed it on my blog. Almost every reviewer commented that the trigger was odd, so Troy-Bilt went back to the drawing board and redesigned the trigger. I tested the new one (along with lots of other products, which is a separate post) and I can say for sure that it is way better and totally comfortable.
They also took us through the “factory” portion of the building, where they do all of their assembly and product testing. We actually couldn’t take photos in the largest area, since there’s some Top Secret stuff in there! I’ll follow up with all of that in a separate post…
Disclaimer: I have been compensated by Troy-Bilt to be a part of the Saturday6 program and provided with various Troy-Bilt items to test, free of charge. All opinions here expressed are my own. I would never participate in anything for a brand I don’t believe in and would never review something disingenuously, as I rely on honest reviews myself.