Research & Tractor Technology Inc. – St. Joseph
Andy DeShon has spent more than 10 years in R&D to perfect
a practical and marketable electric-powered lawn tractor. MO SBTDC
counselor Larry Lee helped with DeShon’s marketing and business plans.
Andy DeShon, owner and founder of St. Joseph-based Research & Tractor Technology Inc., has devised a better idea for cutting grass. He has developed and is marketing an electric lawn and garden tractor. The device employs battery-powered motor technology capable of generating the necessary horsepower and small enough to allow for battery storage, yet is durable and easy to maintain.
Andy DeShon with his low-cost, low-noise, lower carbon emissions electric lawn tractors
St. Joseph innovator Andy DeShon has developed and markets electric lawn tractors that run at a lower cost and with less noise and fewer carbon emissions than their internal-combustion counterparts.
“It also handles snow in the winter, generating enough torque to blow the snow more than 25 feet,” says the lawn tractor innovator.
His interest in electric lawn tractors dates to the ’70s when Andy’s uncle ran a farm implement store.
“One of the new products in my uncle’s inventory at the time was an electric lawn tractor from General Electric,” recalls Andy. “It was very expensive and really ahead of its time.”
Later Andy, who received a degree from the University of Missouri, studied and worked with electric forklifts. That experience caused him to rethink the application. “I decided to re-invent the electric tractor by making it available to all lawn tractor manufacturers through my patent-pending design.”
DeShon demonstrating the snow-blowing capability of his tractor using shaved ice
The lawn tractor innovator recently demonstrated the snow-blowing capability of his machine on a St. Joseph street near his laboratory. A special order of six tons of shaved ice from a local supplier served as the blower’s target.
While spending nearly 10 years researching and developing electric motor and battery technology for lawn tractors, DeShon has successfully converted 14 different lawn tractors from six major manufacturers to electric battery power.
The unique electric motor produces the same power and RPMs for blade-tip speed as its gas-propelled counterparts and it runs for well over two hours. It also operates with significantly less noise than the internal-combustion variety.
DeShon has spent more than 10 years in research and development to perfect a practical and marketable electric-powered lawn tractor.
After a two-hour grass-cutting or snow-removal session, the batteries can be recharged within five or six hours at a standard electrical outlet. Recharging cost is around fifty cents. “And the carbon-footprint is significantly smaller, even if the electricity source is a coal-generated power plant,” says DeShon.
During his development of the electric lawn tractor technology, DeShon realized he needed help to get his product from the prototype stage and into the marketplace. He first turned to Dr. Gary Clapp at Missouri Western State University’s Kit Bond Science & Technology Incubator. Clapp advised DeShon to talk with Larry Lee, a technology commercialization specialist with Small Business and Technology Development Center and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“When I met up with Larry, I had no idea how to put together a business plan or the first thing about preparing a pro forma,” admits Andy. “I knew I had a great idea, but I couldn’t get it off the ground at all.”
Andy demonstrates features of his lawn tractor to state Sen. Charlie Shields in the rotunda of the capitol in Jefferson City
“My tractors received incredible exposure at a meeting at the State Capital in January, and Larry Lee helped me meet one-to-one with more than a dozen state representatives and senators,” says DeShon. “It was an invaluable experience.”
DeShon’s current commercialization plan includes a licensing agreement with Amp Rider by Ariens, which is now available at selected dealerships and at The Home Depot.
In addition he is developing a manufacturing agreement with Kubota. That plan would have Kubota send lawn tractors minus the engines to St. Joseph, where DeShon would oversee the installation of electric engines and battery packs at a soon-to-be-built manufacturing facility. The final products would ultimately be shipped to areas of the country — such as California, Colorado and Texas — currently clamoring for machines with reduced carbon emissions.
With a solid marketing plan in place, Andy is confident of the direction his business is taking, though he says, “All I know is I’d be flat on my face and still in my garage without the marketing and business plan help Larry Lee provided.”
Update: April 2013
Andy moved to Fort Worth, Texas to do market research and is on the cusp of new funding, which he plans to use to return to St. Joseph and set up a manufacturing plant for the tractors.
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