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Bad Boy Mowers of Batesville, which makes a range of zero-turn lawn mowers for residential and commercial use, said Tuesday that it has begun exporting mowers to Australia.

Scott Lancaster, Bad Boy's general counsel, said during a news conference at the state Capitol that the private company already has $1 million in orders for its mowers and accessories. Wideland Ag & Construction, part of Wideland Group of Toowoomba, Australia, will sell the products at 31 dealerships across the country, including Sydney.

Bad Boy, which employs more than 700 people at its manufacturing operations in Batesville, already sells products in 34 U.S. states. Lancaster said the company is also investigating exports to New Zealand and Europe.

The arrangement could mean fewer seasonal layoffs at Bad Boy. Lancaster said Bad Boy typically lays off 10-12 percent of its workforce in the fall as orders for lawn mowers decline. But demand in Australia begins as the U.S. summer ends, which means Bad Boy production can continue.

"So at a time when zero-turn mower manufacturers historically are slowing down and not loading anything, we're going to be able to be ramping up to supply their needs in Australia — building more mowers, providing more jobs and taking the seasonality out of our business is game-changing for us," he said.

Lancaster said the company began negotiating with Wideland about eight months ago. Wideland is marketing the entire Bad Boy line. Lancaster said orders have ranged "from our smallest residential mower up to our largest commercial diesel mower."

In Australia, one of Bad Boy's primary competitors will be the Hustler Turf brand of mowers, manufactured by Excel Industries of Hesston, Kansas, Lancaster said.

'Mowers on the Water'

The international arrangement will require a different delivery method than the company employs domestically. Bad Boy has its own fleet of 18-wheelers — 61 trailers and 28 trucks — to deliver its products to dealers across the country.

To ship overseas, a third-party shipper will crate Bad Boy's products, place them in containers and truck them to ports on the coast. The products will be on the water for seven to eight weeks to get to Australia, Lancaster said. In all, it amounts to about a nine-week delivery time.

Lancaster said the company is already considering other international markets. The company plans to meet about European possibilities in the next three weeks. But Lancaster said Bad Boy will learn from previous, unsuccessful international deals.

"We've seen from past situations it's absolutely critical you get the right people. That was tried in the past — didn't work," he said. "We're going to make sure that if we do this in Europe, just as we've done it in Australia, we've got the absolute best, most successful people in place to do it. Because we do not want a program — we will not accept a program — failing."
Lancaster said he'd like to be back in Little Rock this time next year to announce shipments to Europe. Meanwhile, the company's first shipment Down Under is underway.

"We've already got mowers on the water," he said.

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