Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, March 2, 2012-3
A little sharper than the rest BY STEVE WEISMAN OUTDOOR EDITOR
Spring is close at hand and northwest Iowans are preparing for the upcoming lawn season. Cutting Edge Sales & Service in Milford has its customers covered all year long, from tillers and mowers to snowblowers and ice auger repairs. Opening a small engine repair shop/retail store was never a thought in owner, Joe Wittrock’s, mind until he met Al Kunz nearly seven years ago. At the time, Joe already owned one very busy company, Wittrock Lawn Service, which provides lawn care services, landscaping, snow removal, and more throughout the Lakes area and Spencer. On a separate path, Al had spent 30 years as service manager for a major farm and parts store in the Humboldt area. His passion for fishing the Iowa Great Lakes prompted a move to Northwest Iowa. He knocked on the door at Wittrock’s home to apply for a job on the lawn crew and has, much to Wittrock’s delight, been around ever since! Al spent a few years as a crew leader for Wittrock Lawn Service and, in that time, repaired everything that was needed to keep the crew up and running. Al
says, “I’ve tinkered with small engines ever since I was a kid.” His expertise was invaluable to Joe, but Al was feeling his body wouldn’t be able to keep up on the lawn crew for much longer. That is when the discussion about starting up a small engine retail/repair shop began between Joe and Al. Coincidentally, at the same time, Al visited the Walker Mower booth at the Clay County Fair, where he spoke to a representative. He told them how they used Walker mowers every day at Wittrock Lawn Service and the positive experience they had with the line of mowers. Eventually, Al and Joe were approached to take over the Walker Mower line in the Lakes Area, as Walker was feeling they weren’t being suitably represented in the area at that time. That was enough to energize the two men to get Cutting Edge Sales & Service opened up in March of 2009 in North Milford with Al serving as store manager. Last year, Joe bought a higher profile storefront on Highway 71. Now Wittrock Lawn Service and Cutting Edge Sales and Service are all together in one convenient location. “We’ve found that it’s all about location, location, location,” says Al.
“We feed off of each other and support each other really well,” Al says. With the growth in business, Joe’s wife, Jodi, is now office manager for both businesses and another full time mechanic was hired, along with a part time front desk clerk. “Things run very smoothly with the solid group of employees we have. I know the store is in good hands when I am away,” says Joe. Services and products “You know, an old timer told me years ago, ‘Treat people fairly and with respect.’ That’s what we want to do for all of our customers at Cutting Edge,” says Al. For Joe, his passion is lawn care, and providing owners with the best looking lawn around. Pictures taken of Wittrock Lawn Service jobs underscore Joe’s eye for quality and detail. Of course, to Joe much of the credit goes to his line of mowers: Walker Mowers. Designed to produce a finished job with a manicured look and even, intricate mowing patterns, Joe not only uses them exclusively, he is now also one of the top Walker Mower dealers in an eightstate region. Al proudly says, “The past two years Joe’s Walker dealership was
second in sales volume in the region. He has also received the outstanding sales growth award.” Recognizing the diverse needs of their customers and that the Walker Mowers are a true high-end mower, Joe and Al also went with a second manufacturer: Husqvarna. Husqvarna offers high quality at a lower cost. Plus, they offer smaller sized rider mowers and push mowers, along with tillers and chainsaws. For winter weather, walk behind single and two stage snowblowers and tractor mounted attachments are available as well. “We like them because of their cost and reliability,” says Al. Products don’t end there. Cutting Edge also has a full line of Echo equipment: leaf blowers, grass trimmers, hedge trimmers, edgers, power pruners and chain saws. In addition, there are Briggs and Stratton power washers and generators. Repair Repair is Al’s baby, but then when you began tinkering with engines at age 12, why wouldn’t it be? Al is a certified repairman for Kohler, Briggs, Echo, Walker, Jiffy and Strikemaster. Also, he is often the only mechanic in
Joe and Al with a Walker Mower. Photo by Steve Weismann
the area willing to repair scooters and mopeds and has had much success doing so. Occasionally, Al has worked on golf carts, classic cars, and skid loaders. Chances are, if it’s got a motor, Al will take a look at it! At the same time, Cutting Edge provides a complete sharpening service and offers a fully stocked parts room with over 5,000 parts in stock. To really simplify things for their
customers, they also provide free pick up and delivery in the Lakes area. Specialty items While Joe’s passion is the Walker line of mowers, Al also has specialties of his own, including the Echo and Husqvarna outdoor power equipment lines. Another of his passions is grilling, which is what prompted Al to begin Turn to EDGE, Page 3
Call for Appointment 107 1st Ave. N.E.
2006 Okoboji Ave.Milford, IA 51351