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Cleaning up the Future: Michael Jones

For decades, Positec has been a trailblazer in the outdoor products and tools industry. Now, spearheaded in North America by President and CEO Michael Jones, it is pivoting to a consumer electrification and robotics company.

When thinking of the future, we once imagined a world of flying cars, robot housekeepers and smart homes, where lights flick on at the clap of the hands or a robot takes care of dinner. That dream is now closer to reality than ever, thanks to companies like Positec.

Founded in 1994, Positec – short for positive technology – has been a trailblazing name in outdoor products and tools since its first breakthrough moment, the introduction of the WORX Cordless GT multi-use grass trimmer. Today, in addition to their existing product lines WORX, Kress, Rockwell and Cat, the company is pioneering in-home robotics for both the consumer and professionals.

“Labor remains tough to find, so any technology that reduces the dependency on labor and delivers cost savings is going to resonate well.”

Based in Suzhou, China, with North American headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, Michael Jones was appointed President and CEO of Positec North America in November 2022.

“Our founder, Don Gao, is a visionary who insists we stay ahead of the competition,” Jones tells The CEO Magazine. “The company is currently going through an exciting transformation as it shifts from a leader in outdoor products and tools to a global electrification and robotics company for consumers and professionals.”

Having spent his prior years working on largely gas products, Jones was keen to work on the electrification aspect of Positec’s product line. And with several years of industry experience focused on sustainability, automation and robotics, the opportunity at Positec has been a great fit for him to continue his professional journey.

Sustainable Innovation

Reflecting on his first 12 months in the role, Jones can identify the main industry challenges driving innovation at Positec, particularly in its key market, the landscaping industry: access to labor, followed by the move towards environmentally-friendly products.

“Labor remains tough to find, so any technology that reduces the dependency on labor and delivers cost savings is going to resonate well with professional landscapers, as long as there’s a solid payback on the investment,” Jones explains.

He highlights its brand Kress, which he says is unique as the only battery solution for commercial landscapers.

“What I like about Kress is that it saves landscapers money from day one and has the long battery life of up to 10 times our competitors,” he says.

But he also spots plenty of opportunity, especially when it comes to arguably our greatest luxury today: time.

“Oregon Tool is the inventor of today’s modern saw chain and a world-leading manufacturer of saw chain, mower blades and premium parts for outdoor power equipment. Trusted by pros since 1947, Oregon works with OEMs like Positec to lead industry innovation.” – Elliot Zimmer, CEO, Oregon Tool


“Helping people get time back in their lives is critical,” he says. “Recent research shows that one in six adults don’t believe there are enough hours in a day to get things done.”

He notes that searches in the United States on how to save time are up nearly 50 percent since 2014, according to Google Trends.

“Positec is launching both indoor and outdoor robotic solutions that address this need,” he adds. “By 2033, robots are expected to do 39 percent of household chores, according to research from Oxford University. Our product investments are on trend to address this – to get back time.”

These robotic launches include a mowing system that uses AI and machine learning to ‘see’ lawns. The product is unique to the industry. Also unique are its first robotic vacuum and mop; what sets it apart from other products on the market is the easy installation process and its self-sufficiency.

“When both are finished, it cleans itself so you don’t have to,” Jones explains. “It changes its mop pad automatically after use as well. You interact with it about once every 14 days for mopping and about once every two months for vacuuming.”

Supplier Support

Pulling off such innovative industry moves requires excellence from its suppliers. Positec carefully selects its partners based on quality, reliability and cost effectiveness.

“We also seek supplier partners who align with our values and goals,” Jones says. “We share, where appropriate, our strategy and focus on globalization and electrification. We find that the suppliers that embrace our vision and our values are the best partners.”

With some partners, such as Oregon Tool, it shares joint development initiatives.

“Oregon Tool shares in joint venture R&D and it works with us to co-develop innovative solutions for customers,” Jones explains. “For example, Kress is proud to partner with Oregon Tool as the global leader in chainsaw accessories, to design and deliver innovative, first-to-market chain and bar solutions specifically engineered for professional use with battery equipment.”

“Without our suppliers, we couldn’t do what we do.”

For newer, emerging suppliers, Positec even offers training and support to optimize quality and product development.

“We work with them during the product life cycle to optimize both cost and product improvement to help suppliers manage cashflow. We supply strong production planning and forecasting, and our systems give visibility to inventory and demand by eliminating waste,” Jones says. “Frankly, we all benefit.”

Relationships in this business, like all businesses, are key.

“Without our suppliers, we couldn’t do what we do.”