Dec. 20 2018 11:31 AM

A memo from a Textron executive reportedly cites “market pressure” as the reason.

We may be saying goodbye to a couple of zero-turn mower brands, if reports of Textron’s intentions are accurate.

A story published in Rural Lifestyle Dealer reports that Textron Specialized Vehicles, Augusta, Georgia, has ceased production of Dixie Chopper and Jacobsen zero-turn mowers and Jacobsen Truckster L/M series utility vehicles. This is according to a Dec. 5 memo to dealers reportedly issued from the office of Rachel Luken Thompson, vice president of golf and turf international and outdoor power equipment at Textron Specialized Vehicles.

In the memo, Thompson reportedly says, “This was a difficult decision, but market pressure and a change in the economic circumstances of the business made it necessary.”

The story says that Textron will continue to provide sales, warranty, parts and service support to its dealers and end-use customers and plans to do so well into the future. A team of employees will be maintained in Greencastle, Indiana to provide service and support, and to fulfill parts and accessories orders. The dealer portal will also be maintained.

All factory warranties on new units, whether currently in a dealer’s inventory, or purchased by a dealer from remaining factory stock will continue to be honored by Textron Specialized Vehicles, according to the memo.

The memo is also reported as saying that all remaining stock of Dixie Chopper and Jacobsen units that are in the company’s possession will be sold. And, that the company will continue to work with financing partners on dealer floorplan and retail financing programs in order to help dealers manage and sell the existing inventory of the two brands.

In a related story published by the Augusta Chronicle (Georgia) on December 7, Damon Cline reported that Textron Specialized Vehicles’ corporate parent stated in a federal regulatory filing its intention to lay off about 400 employees, about 10 percent of its workforce, because of “significant changes” it has undergone since acquiring Arctic Cat in 2017.

The company also said it would close several factory-direct turf-care branch locations and “a manufacturing facility.”

In November, according to the story, the company notified the Indiana Department of Workforce Development that it would close its Coatesville, Indiana factory, which produced the Dixie Chopper brand residential, commercial and industrial lawnmowers.

A story aired on RTV6, Indianapolis, reported by Katie Cox and posted November 29 on states that the Coatesville factory did indeed close “unexpectedly” after executives from Textron Specialized Vehicles met with employees. The closure meant that 107 employees were laid off.

Textron acquired Dixie Chopper in 2014.

So far, Textron has not issued any public statement about its reported intention to cease manufacturing of Dixie Chopper and Jacobsen zero-turn mowers and Jacobsen Truckster L/M series utility vehicles.