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Cash for Clunker lawnmowers

My friend Cliff Cutblade is the ultimate entrepreneur. Cliff happens to be in the lawn mower and tractor business, but when the Cash For Clunkers car discount program was announced recently, Cliff's wheels started turning. His first thought was, "Why aren't I in the new car business?" But he didn't waste much time with that thought. His second thought was, "How can I make this work for me?"

So Cliff scouted around, did some serious homework and looked into other aspects of the stimulus program. He found that if you can tailor a proposal to a. stimulate the economy, b. put people back to work and c. improve the environment, you just might get some stimulus money to make it work.

Clifford Cleaver Cutblade III knows how to develop an idea and focus on a project. He wrote a brilliant plan. First of all, he reasoned, you don't put people back to work by promoting a product made in China. So he checked his line of mowers and tractors. He sorted out all the Chinese machines and stuck with the equipment made in the U.S.A.: Coatesville and Greenville, Tenn., Mayville and West Bend, Wis., Bloomington, Minn. and Moline, Ill. For the environmental factor, he limited his plan to marketing cordless electric mowers along with low noise, low smoke gas engines. Also, the most environmental friendly machine made -- the old fashioned, no engine push mower.

He applied for stimulus funds and his program was approved. One month later, I interviewed him to learn more about it.

Q: Cliff, do you have political influence or what?

A: No way. I put together an All-American proposal to stimulate the economy and put workers back on the job while reducing the carbon footprint in the mower industry.

Q: How does it work?

A: Americans love their lawn mowers, but they hate them too. Everybody has had at least one mower they wanted to dynamite. The landfills are full of loud, smoke producing clunker mowers that don't work anymore. But nobody was buying -- everybody was waiting. My program is this: bring in a clunker that you can keep running for 60 seconds, especially noisy machines, smokers and rust buckets. Stimulus money is available for discounts all the way from $25 for economy machines to $500 for the more expensive models.

Q: How is it working?

A: The sales are amazing. Buyers are trading up and they're trading down. We've sold an unbelievable number of no-engine push mowers. Back to the basics. On the high end, many owners are trading up to zero turn riding tractors that can pivot around a tree without leaving a blade of grass.

Q: What's your favorite?

A: I love the cordless electric mowers. Plug them in overnight then the next day you mow the lawn. They don't roar, they just hum -- I call them hummers. No noise or fumes, they're the wave of the future.

Q: What do you do with the trade-ins?

A: We save any inflatable tires for kids' projects and the rest of the machine is crushed into little cubes no bigger than a foot square. Later on, the good stuff is sorted out and recycled.

Q: How long will this program go on?

A: Well, I have limited stimulus money available and while the demand for cars is endless, it's not as great for mowers. We're doing our part for employment here in the U.S.A. and for the economy, but a year from now it will be all over.

Q: Do you have any follow up ideas?

A: There is no end to the possibilities. We could put together programs for clunker motorcycles, clunker airplanes, clunker farm tractors and combines, clunker computers, clunker cell phones and clunker electric razors (too loud and use too much electricity). Yes -- there are countless ways to crank up jobs and get America buying again.