Briggs & Stratton Closing Plants, Reducing Capacity

Engine, outdoor power equipment maker evaluating manufacturing footprint for greater efficiency

Briggs & Stratton Corp. plans to close two manufacturing plants and reduce operations at a third site, citing falling demand for its outdoor power equipment. The plan was reported together with the company’s 2Q 2012 earnings statement, which included a net sales decrease of $2.4 million or 0.5% from 2Q 2011. Briggs & Stratton had second-quarter net income of $2.7 million.

The Milwaukee-based company produces gasoline engines for lawn-and-garden equipment, and manufacturers numerous branded products like portable and standby generators, pressure washers, snow throwers and lawn-and-garden powered equipment.

"We continually evaluate our manufacturing footprint as we consider productivity and efficiency gains along with changes in the markets we serve,” stated Todd J. Teske, chairman, president and CEO.

The company will consolidate its Newbern, Tenn., and McDonough, Ga., plants at the Georgia site by May 15, and it will close a plant in Ostrava, Czech Republic on March 15 as it shifts production from there to a plant in Murray, Ken. The Tennessee plant manufactures walk-behind lawn mowers and snow throwers for the U.S. market, and has 240 regular employees and 450 temporary workers. The Czech plant produces small gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment. It has approximately 77 employees, Briggs & Stratton said.

Further, Briggs & Stratton will idle some operations at its Poplar Bluff, Mo., plant, reducing capacity there. It said there would not be significant changes to the employment total there, however.

“Since 2004, the U.S. lawn and garden market has declined over 33%,” Teske detailed. “This significant and prolonged market decline is unlike any other this industry has seen in decades.

“The actions announced today to consolidate our manufacturing footprint further, will better align our production capacity to the markets we serve," Teske continued. "It was a very difficult decision to close these production facilities; however, these changes are a necessary step in executing our strategy to grow the profitability of our business and invest our resources in high margin and margin expanding areas."

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