An interview with Randy Mihalko, Owner STORM Landscape Services

How did you get the electric contract with the city?

We have a good relationship with the Public Works Department. They invited us to submit a proposal in 2021 for the landscape maintenance program for what they call the Multi-Site Landscape Maintenance contract. In order to be invited to submit proposals for their contracts you have to meet their criteria which we do. The contract selection process has a grading system based on price, experience, references, personnel, etc. We were selected for the contract based on their grading process. They requested two prices; one for gas equipment and one for electric equipment. Public Works then submitted both of those prices to the City Council to vote on. I had a meeting with them to answer questions about the gas versus electric and they voted in favor of the electric contract. I believe the vote was 4 to 3 so it was not unanimous.

How many electric crews do you have? How many gas crews?

We have 15 total landscape maintenance crews and 6 of them are strictly electric. The other 9 crews are gas with a few electric backpack blowers mixed in depending on the customer contracts.

Do you intend to add more electric crews? Does electric-powered work cost more than gas-powered work done by your company?

Yes, approximately 20-30% more depending on the scope of work. More deciduous trees and more lawn means higher percentage cost.

What are some of the other large accounts you have using electric equipment?

Electric contracts are with the City of Lake Oswego, Portland General Electric, and Providence Hospitals. Both are very large contracts. We have hybrid contracts with Mary’s Woods Retirement Community and Arranmore HOA.

Can you take on any more commercial work?

Commercial, yes.

What are the pros and cons of transitioning to electric landscaping equipment for commercial landscapers?


1. quieter (less intrusive and healthier for customers and employees).
2. no emission (healthier for environment and employees)
3. less mechanical maintenance (no oil, spark plugs, filters, belts, etc to replace)
4. longer warranty period
5. fuel savings


  • initial cost of equipment is much higher
    • 60″ mower is $24k for electric (Greenworks Optimus) versus $10k for gas (Exmark Vertex)
    • backpack blower is $8k for electric (tool, chargers, 16 batteries) versus $600 for gas
    • backpack blower is about half as productive as gas (all other equipment and mowers are same productivity as gas)
  • invest in electric infrastructure to charge batteries
    • up size circuit panel, install sub-panels, install additional circuits and outlets in shop $8k
    • up size PGE meter (our panel is maxed based on the size of our meter, waiting 3 months for PGE design team, still unsure of cost)
  • mobile refueling limitations
    • with gas equipment we have cans of gas to refuel, with battery equipment it requires a mobile battery charging system
      • fabricated a battery generator charging system in enclosed trailer $11k for trailer, $9k for battery generators and charging system
      • install 30 amp RV outlets in the yard @ $4k per trailer

What advice would you give to other commercial landscaping companies transitioning to electric?

Plan on considerable start up costs as noted above and lots of training for employees. During leaf season plan on considerably higher labor costs to make up for the backpack blower production shortfall.