Dixie Chopper Manager Rides Mower to California with a Message

Matt Land, Dixie Chopper's national sales manager, mounted a mower near Greencastle April 22 and headed west to Sacramento, Calif.

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April 23, 2007

Magic Circle Corp., the Coatesville, Ind.-based lawn mower maker known for bizarre marketing schemes, is on the verge of topping itself.

Matt Land, the company's national sales manager, mounted one of its Dixie Chopper mowers near Greencastle April 22 and headed west to Sacramento, Calif.

He'll travel mostly on Route 66. Where interstate travel is unavoidable, he'll put the lawn mower in a trailer. He expects to travel 2,000 miles on the mower.

Dixie Chopper mowers are known for being well-built machines, but the manufacturer, a family-owned business, is a small player in an industry dominated by such behemoths as John Deere.

Yet the company has been adept at drawing attention to itself. Like the time it mounted a gas grill on the back of a mower, allowing officials to grill burgers while mowing the lawn at headquarters.

Or the time company founder Art Evans mounted a 150-horsepower jet engine onto one of his mowers. His son, Warren, took it to the Greencastle Airport and did 60 mph. The ensuing stir climaxed with an appearance by the over-the-top man-tool on the TV show "Home Improvement."

Now, in a nod to Earth Day, the lawn mower Land will ride to the California capital is environmentally friendly propane-powered.

The company started offering propane mowers last year, but they've been slow to sell. "Every new idea takes awhile," Land said.

He said he has noticed recently that California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been talking like an environmentalist.

"I want to ask him, 'Why isn't the state of California using propane lawn mowers?' " Land says.

Land hopes to generate publicity in Western states where sales of Dixie Choppers are thin.

The Dixie Chopper wrench-turners have jiggered Land's machine so it can do 40 mph, but even then the journey promises to be long, strange and jarring.