The environmentally friendly and patented way to mow got its start in 2009 in Conrad’s garage
“I was in the process of collecting parts to convert a car to electric and my lawn mower broke, so I thought ‘I’ll just make an electric lawn mower,” Conrad said. “I made the first prototype, or as we called it a ‘mule’ because it basically carried all the parts for it.”
That not only helped him mow his own five-acre property, it also spurred him to work with his son, Matt, to build the first zero-turn, all-electric mower, which the pair started to take to trade shows and sell. In 2012, the father-son team opened Mean Green Mowers at 4404 Hamilton Cleves Road in Ross Twp.
Since then, the business has expanded its staffing to 25 employees, including Joe Conrad’s wife, Chris, who handles sales, and their daughter, Jessica, who handles social media and marketing. Several of Matt’s friends from as far back as kindergarten also are employees.
“At least half of the people that work here are people we’ve known probably their whole lives,” Joe Conrad said, who noted the company plans to hire as many as 10 more employees later this year.
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Mean Green Mowers recently opened a showroom and built an assembly line area in adjoining space. That expansion has allowed it to double its production of the five different types of mowers it offers, all of which can last about 7 hours on a single lithium battery charge.
“That’s the first question that commercial guys ask and the biggest doubt they have is ‘it’ll never work, it’s not going to last all day,’ but we’ve proven it, year after year now, that it’ll work,” Conrad said.
Mean Green Mowers sells its zero emissions mowers nationwide to numerous municipalities, universities and commercial lawn mowing companies, the latter typically seeing a return on investment in “the first season-and-a-half or so,” Conrad said.
“Then it’s just extra money in their pocket after that,” he said. “They’re more expensive to buy up front, obviously, but you recoup your money pretty quick.”
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Because Mean Green Mowers are made from aluminum and not steel, they are much lighter than typical mowers, said Joe Conrad, a Badin High School graduate.
“As long as they’re strong, the lighter they are, the more efficient they are,” he said.
It also helps that Mean Green Mowers do not use any belts or pulleys, Conrad said.
“Each of one our blades on (each mower) has its own electric motor, so it’s very simple. There’s basically no routine maintenance that you have to do on these,” he said.
Building things is firmly in his bailiwick, having previously rebuilt damaged airplanes while operating the Butler County Regional Airport through via a fixed-based operator that was bought out in 2007.
Matt Conrad, who also graduated from Badin, runs the assembly line and is responsible for most of the design work on each mower. His wife, Rachel, helps with ordering parts and other aspects of the business.
“Having family involved is an important part of running our business,” Joe Conrad said. “You’ve got to have people around you can trust and if it’s good, hopefully the legacy will continue.”
Seeing Mean Green Mowers become available worldwide is the fulfillment of a longtime dream, Matt Conrad said.
“I want to have something that makes an impact on the world and something that you can see throughout the whole world,” he said. “That kind of stuff is really neat and is kind of what drives us.”