From the Daily Herald Business Ledger:

A robotic lawn mower will be coming soon to an acre of grass near you.

Lake Zurich-based Echo Inc., which manufacturers and distributes landscape equipment worldwide, is expanding its product lines and aims to introduce its new Roomba-like lawn mower to U.S. customers by next year. It's one of the many ways the company has been expanding in recent years.

"Here in the U.S., we are working on the second generation of these products to be sold to sports fields and golf driving ranges," said Barb Gora, senior manager of corporate marketing at Echo. "These are not homeowner products and are designed for large grass spaces requiring regular mowing for surface consistency." 

The company has been looking at such new ventures for a while and acquired Belrobotics in Belgium in 2014 for its robotic lawn mowers. The battery-operated mowers work within a border wire as a boundary to move around and trim the grass. Belrobotics has been selling robotic mowers in Europe for more than 10 years. They are used to maintain about 600 soccer fields there, Gora said.

Adding such companies and products has helped Echo expand in a competitive industry. Besides new products, it also continues to sell staples, such as hedgers, trimmers, blowers and other outdoor equipment for landscapers, arborists and other industry professionals. Echo's workforce of 860 employees continues to grow as well as its 37-acre campus in an industrial park in Lake Zurich.

"We're pleased that Echo decided to expand in Lake Zurich as opposed to the alternatives of moving away," said Lake Zurich Mayor Thomas Poynton. 

Echo also sells it products to wholesalers, who then sell the products to about 6,600 independent dealers.

Besides products for professionals, Echo expanded its consumer offerings after it partnered with Home Depot in 1994. Echo products are carried in stores throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico.