What’s Trending at Toro

Have you ever wondered what new technologies Toro is working on for the future? Are you curious about where we get our inspiration for new products and features? You may be surprised to find out we have a whole team dedicated to supporting and facilitating research and development, and we’re always evolving right along with our customers and markets.

Today, that team is known as Toro’s Center for Technology, Research and Innovation (the TRI-Center). The name is new, but our commitment to development goes back to The Toro Company’s beginnings in 1914. That’s why this story about the future wouldn’t be complete without a look back at our past.

True to Our Roots
Finding better ways to solve customers’ challenges has always been part of the fabric of Toro’s culture. An important chapter in that legacy started in 1952, when turf industry legend James R. Watson, Ph.D., joined The Toro Company as director of agronomy.

Around that time, Dr. Watson began leading a team of researchers in conducting studies on a variety of grasses and soils to ensure best management practices in fertilization and water usage, as well as approaches for controlling unwanted grasses, disease and pests. (Fun fact: The area where these studies took place was once the only research center of its kind in the world. It’s now known as the “Dr. James R. Watson Research and Development Proving Grounds” and it is still being used today at Toro’s world headquarters in Bloomington, Minn.)

During his 46 years at Toro, Dr. Watson was a pioneer in turf and water management research, and he used the results of his studies to educate Toro personnel and the industry at large. Dr. Watson was more than an agronomist, he was a customer advocate — and golf courses, parks and sports facilities around the world frequently sought his advice whenever they faced difficult turf challenges.

Expanding Our Focus
Building on Dr. Watson’s groundbreaking research, an advanced engineering group emerged within Toro’s commercial division in the 1980s. Over time, this team expanded to include both residential and commercial equipment, as well as irrigation, evolving into the Center for Advanced Turf Technology in the late 1990s.

Since then, Toro’s product offering has grown substantially — and our research and development efforts have evolved to match. Although turf science and agronomy are still very much a part of our work, we have broadened our efforts to include other non-turf areas that impact our customers. Today, the TRI-Center is a resource for every Toro business, from underground directional drilling to snow and ice management to micro-irrigation for agriculture.

What Is the TRI-Center, and What Do They Do?
You can learn a lot about the Center for Technology, Research and Innovation simply by looking at the name. Each keyword captures an aspect of their work at Toro:

  • Center: The TRI-Center plays a central role at Toro, working on behalf of all of The Toro Company’s markets and customers. Research and development isn’t a separate department in a separate location; it’s done in collaboration. This eliminates duplication of efforts, as multiple divisions often need the same kinds of core technology “building blocks.”
  • Technology: The TRI-Center supports each division by investigating new technologies — which could be anything from alternative fuels to wireless communications. Sometimes this is purely exploratory, without a set goal other than learning from customers about their challenges and identifying opportunities to apply technology. At other times, a specific division has a stated objective and the TRI-Center helps to answer questions or compare alternatives before work begins on a new product development project.
  • Research: This is all about delivering tangible data, whether it’s substantiating the cost of ownership of an existing product or answering preliminary questions before developing a new one. Most of this research applies directly to the markets and customers Toro serves, but the TRI-Center also partners with universities and industry organizations to support fundamental scientific research that benefits our customers’ industries overall.
  • Innovation: The TRI-Center serves as a collaborative advocate and resource, promoting innovation throughout The Toro Company. We recognize that the word “innovation” means different things for different organizations. At Toro, it means generating ideas that are both novel and useful — not one or the other — and applying those ideas in ways that are valued by our customers. We’re not interested in inventing for the sake of invention; we’re committed to solving problems and making life easier for the people we serve. And that extends to our approach to sustainability as well. Our goal is to use technology in ways that not only help conserve our natural resources but are also cost-efficient for our customers — ultimately delivering both environmental and operational sustainability.

In summary, Toro’s Center for Technology, Research and Innovation team is passionately focused on solving customer problems — from the challenge of finding and retaining qualified labor to dealing with the demands of doing more with less, the team works on problems rather than products. The solution may ultimately take the form of a new product, but it could also be finding new ways to apply something that already exists. It all comes down to understanding the challenges you face and delivering real solutions.


Where Will the TRI-Center Focus in the Future?
Looking ahead, the TRI-Center is focused on exploration in several key areas:

  1. Productivity. Whether you’re facing a shortage of labor or time (or both), increased productivity is more important than ever. That’s true for professionals and consumers alike. The TRI-Center team continues to look at ways to save time and streamline efficiencies, for example, by simplifying operation and maintenance processes.
  2. Precision management. The fewer resources and inputs you have to work with, the more important it is to manage them efficiently. Historically, many of our customers have relied more on art than science to manage their resources. In the future, our goal is to equip you with more science (i.e., data-based information) to assist you in making better-informed decisions.
  3. Alternative energy. We are working in support of those who have a desire to reduce their carbon footprint. We continue to investigate the potential of various forms of alternative energy, aimed at improving air quality through reduced emissions, and achieving quieter, less disruptive operation.
  4. Technology exploration. What’s on the horizon that could benefit our customers? Can we use existing technology in new ways to achieve customers’ goals? Members of the TRI-Center will be keeping their eyes, ears and minds open — always looking for creative ways to apply technology in useful ways.

No matter where the future leads us, you can be sure that Toro’s Center for Technology, Research and Innovation is working to find new ways to apply technology to solve the challenges you face every day.