Business profile: Walker Mowers

By: Lyndsay Whittle

Farm Trader speaks to a couple of Oratia orchardists who own Walker Mowers

Perhaps the most essential piece of equipment these landowners use in maintaining the large grassed areas, is a ride-on mower. Having recently seen a Walker Mower being skilfully demonstrated at the New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays, and having had a brief chat with Walker Mowers president, Bob Walker, it occurred to me that I know a couple of Oratia orchardists – Murray Firth and Allan Sumich – who both own Walker mowers.

Walker -mowers

I was sure they’d both be keen to share their stories, so I caught up with them for a chat at their properties about the machinery they use to maintain their respective land.

Walker 20hp MC

Murray Firth has owned his Walker 20hp MC model for about seven years, but it isn’t his first Walker machine.

His original Walker was a smaller 11hp MS model which he purchased second-hand. It served him well for almost six years, although he felt it was a little underpowered for his property, hence his decision to replace it with the larger 20hp MC model Walker in 2010. Murray’s six and a half acres of garden is mostly grassed and is quite steep in places, with lots of tight spots to mow.

Typically, this takes him a full five hours to mow. He says that aside from being exceptionally manoeuvrable and comfortable to operate due to its out-front mowing deck, the mower also serves as a vacuum cleaner to collect leaf-fall during the autumn months.

When asked what drew his attention to a Walker in the first place, he said that back in 2005 he saw a contractor using one commercially and was impressed with the obvious ease at which it could be operated.


Easy operation or not, about five years ago Murray allowed a well-meaning relative to have a turn at mowing his lawns, only to find to his dismay that half way through the job, the relative made a miscalculation as to his proximity to the Firth’s lake and in went the machine with the operator still atop it.

After the mower was rescued from the lake’s watery depths, Murray’s brother Bob, who is a mechanic, was on hand to clean the engine out, renew the filters and give it an oil and fuel change before firing it back into life.

To be completely certain that no permanent damage was to follow, the unfortunate Walker was given several subsequent oil changes and Murray says that it has continued to run like a dream to this day.

Murray says that he’s never regretted the extra money he initially paid to get himself a quality piece of equipment, as he knows it will still have a decent residual value when the time comes to trade it in on a new Walker machine in years to come.

Walker 26hp MT


When Allan Sumich built a new house about 10 years ago on what was once his strawberry patch, he realised that the amount of grassed area he’d placed around the house was going to require something a little larger than his old push-mower to keep the property looking pristine.

Reckoning that he’d probably need to mow his lawns every week (depending on the time of year) Allan set about researching the most suitable brand and configuration of mower that would best suit his needs. He could see that a Walker with its out-front deck and fingertip-control steering would be just the ticket.

When an opportunity to buy a second-hand machine that only had 60 hours on the clock presented itself (at what was a very good price to boot), he jumped at the chance and grabbed it before someone else got in ahead of him.

Allan finds his Walker MT’s zero-turn capability allows the mower to reach into corners of his property that would be otherwise inaccessible with a mid-mounted mower. The floating out-front deck provides for smooth operation when traversing kerbs and the like, without any annoying chips occurring in the concrete, not to mention any damage that could be done to the machine itself.


Allan says the Walker MT’s 26hp V-Twin engine provides him with all the power and ground speed he needs in his application, and that the edging attachment he uses (which is also a genuine Walker attachment) makes short work of trimming the edges on both sides of his 100m driveway.

Also, this model’s large capacity seven- or 10-bushel electric-tip bin affords Allan the benefit of not having to get out of his seat, as he puts it,"from go to whoa".


Walker Mower history

Way back in 1953, Walker Manufacturing company president Bob Walker received a seventh birthday present he’ll never forget.

His father, Max, who at the time was a farmer, had been putting in many hours after the farm work was done, building Bob a miniature Caterpillar dozer which later would become known as the Power Track.

The machine was originally pedal-powered but was later fitted with a 4hp Kohler engine. Max Walker’s foray into the field of manufacturing a plaything for his son in 1953, developed into the commercial manufacturing of golf carts in 1957. Later, in the early 1970s, Max also designed an evaporative cab cooler which became a standard item used on agricultural equipment.

Walker -Conference -Showroom -2017-HR

In 1977, Max and his two sons, Bob and Dean, bought two rear-engine mowers for their personal properties. However they found them cumbersome and slow, so immediately set about making improvements to make them easier to operate and give the user a faster, better cut.

The original Walker Mower was powered by an11hp engine, however by 1988 the powerplant had been upgraded to a 16hp Kohler engine. Fast-forward to 2008, and Walker Mowers celebratd producing its 100,000th mower. At that time it was employing 175 workers.

Walker Mower models

Walker -mowers -2

Walker Mowers’ patented integrated Grass Handling System allows the operator to precisely trim the grass on both sides of the mower deck and creates a vacuum action which transports the grass to the catcher.

Inside the catcher there is another Walker patented item, known as the Powerfil Oscillating Delivery system. This packs the catcher to full capacity, with a horn sounding when the catcher is full.

There are three grass dumping options available; standard Manual Dump, Power Dump (an electrically-powered system which allows the operator to empty the catcher from the operator’s seat) and Hi-Dump, which as its name suggests, allows for the unloading of cut grass onto a small truck or high-sided trailer.

Tilt -decks

Tilt-up decks, which are a standard feature on all Walker Mowers, facilitate easy maintenance without having to jack the machine clear of the ground for either inspection purposes or during servicing. It also makes changing other attachments, such as the Walker side mulch deck, boom sprayer or dozer blade, that much simpler.

The tilt-open body makes for easy access to the engine and other components for servicing and general maintenance. Walker Mowers range in size and configuration from the B Series, with a range of 18-23hp engines, up to the the top-of-the-line Kubota powered D Series mower.

Twin -blade

Kiwi distribution

Stevens Products Limited is the New Zealand distributor for Walker Mowers and is a third-generation family business, operating from a purpose-built 40,000 square foot facility. It even includes a large area of lawn which is used for research and development.

This entity is the parent company of Stevens Outdoor Equipment, which commenced engineering and manufacturing in 1974. It too maintains its own prototype development facility, meaning the company has the ability to modify overseas products to perform better under Kiwi conditions.

2017-Mystery -Creek -Fieldays -2017-mystery -creek -fieldays -_dsc 0062

Stevens began importing the Walker Mower range of zero turn mowers in 1987 and sells these through a national dealer network trained to provide service back-up. The company also carries a wide range of spare parts in-store.

Stevens has continued to grow, taking on Hustler and BigDog mower agencies, and more recently Branson tractors as well. The company also has a commercial equipment machinery division, importing Eurocomach hydraulic excavators and Morbark chippers and stump grinders, as well as the Morbark Boxer range.

Keep up to date in the industry by signing up to Farm Trader's free newsletter or liking us on Facebook