Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton Corp. plans to close its McDonough, Ga. manufacturing plant and consolidate production in Wauwatosa and New York. The move will create 220 new full-time jobs and about 150 temporary seasonal jobs in Wauwatosa.
The Wauwatosa facility will now make pressure washers, snow throwers and lawn tractors. Zero-turn lawnmower production will move to New York, though no additional jobs will be created there.
The shift, which eliminates about 475 positions in Georgia, will begin in the first quarter of 2015 and be completed time for the 2016 lawn and garden season. The company will also make fewer lower-end consumer products in its Snapper lawn and garden line, instead focusing on premium residential Snapper and Simplicity products and Snapper Pro and Ferris commercial products. Along with the consolidation of manufacturing operations, it will reduce costs.
“While we have seen improved sales of our lawn and garden equipment during our fiscal 2014, in an effort to improve the operating performance of our products business, we believe it is necessary to simplify our Snapper product line, reduce our offerings of certain low volume and lower-priced Snapper lawn and garden products and reduce the related manufacturing capacity and expenses,” said Todd Teske, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Briggs & Stratton. “We will continue executing our strategy to focus on those premium products that generate higher margins and returns for our shareholders.”
Briggs’ fiscal year ended June 29. The company expects 2014 consolidated net sales of $1.9 billion, flat from 2013. The restructuring is expected to cost about $30 to $37 million, and result in $15 to $20 million in annual cost savings.
Briggs has about 6,000 employees worldwide, 1,200 of whom are in Wisconsin. It uses a seasonally flexible workforce to manufacture standby generators at its Wauwatosa facility.