Briggs & Stratton paying more than $5 million in retention awards, restoring salaries

Briggs & Stratton headquarters
The Briggs & Stratton headquarters in Wauwatosa.

Last updated on March 2nd, 2021 at 09:59 am

Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton Corp. plans to pay out more than $5 million in retention awards to top executives and other key employees, according to a securities filing the company made Monday.

Briggs also said it would restore the base salaries of its named executive officers starting July 1.

In late March, Briggs said Todd Teske, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the company, would take a 40% pay cut as the company navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. Four other top executives also took 35% pay cuts.

An internal document obtained by BizTimes indicated that salaried employees took pay cuts of 25% to 30% as well.

A number of other public companies also announced pay cuts as businesses sought to maintain flexibility during the coronavirus crisis.

Briggs said in its filing Monday that all other salary reductions would also be restored on July 1.

The cuts for the company’s top executives will amount to a roughly $250,000 reduction during the three months they were in place.

The cash retention awards the Briggs board approved last week offers four of the five top executives $2.65 million combined, provided they stay with the company for the next year. Teske is receiving the largest disclosed award at $1.2 million.

Briggs said the retention awards are taking the place of annual bonuses and long-term incentive compensation awards for 2021. In fiscal 2019, the most recent year with available data, Teske’s long-term incentive had a value of $2.8 million when granted in the form of stock options, restricted units and performance units.

In total, the company is paying out $5.125 million in retention awards. Employees would have to repay the awards if they voluntarily resign or are fired for cause before June 11, 2021.

Rick Carpenter, vice president of corporate marketing at Briggs, noted in an email that the retention awards “are to ensure that the company retains the commitment, experience and expertise as a group to help align the company in these tough economic times.”

The company also disclosed an agreement with its lenders to amend its existing revolving credit agreement to provide an additional month to put a more permanent capital structure in place.

Briggs also said it would use a 30-day grace period to delay a $6.7 million interest payment that was due on June 15.

“Our decision to take advantage of the month grace period does not affect compliance with our Revolving Credit Agreement as this is a contractually-allowed step for us to take,” Carpenter said.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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