Manufacturing Odds & Ends

Favre returns as Snapper pitchman
Brett Favre is coming back. Well, at least he is returning as the celebrity spokesman for the Snapper brand of lawnmowers. The Briggs & Stratton Power Products Group recently re-signed the quarterback as its Snapper spokesman.

"Who wouldn’t want Brett Favre on their team?" said Troy Blewett, director of dealer channel marketing for the Briggs & Stratton Power Products, a division of Milwaukee-based Briggs & Stratton Corp. "He’s the ideal spokesperson for our brand. Not only does he enjoy mowing his own lawn, but the attributes he is known for as a quarterback-long-term durability and superior performance-are the same ones homeowners closely associate with our products." Favre spends much of his free time at his home in Hattiesburg, Miss., cutting several acres of grass.

"When I’m away from football, I love spending time on my Snapper," Favre said in a statement issued by the company. "I just cannot imagine someone else mowing my lawn. It’s something I can look back on at the end of the day and be proud of. And someday, after I retire, I imagine I’ll spend even more time on my mower."

Favre has been promoting Snapper lawn and garden products since 2004 and will continue to appear in television, radio and newspaper advertisements for the Snapper brand, as well as being featured prominently in sales literature, in-store displays and on the brand’s website. The new agreement is for a minimum of two years.

SBA’s deadline for flood-affected businesses extended
An Aug. 13 deadline for businesses affected by the severe storms and flooding from earlier this summer has been moved to Sept. 15 to allow more businesses to apply.

Following the floods earlier this summer, more than 1,700 businesses registered for flood relief with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA Field Operations Center East. However, only six percent of those businesses have applied for an emergency loan with the Small Business Administration’s Wisconsin office.

"They don’t need to have all of the answers, bids for repairs or even estimates of damage," Skaggs said. "We can send someone out to assess the damage and we can take an assignment of insurance. On the back end, we’re very flexible." If a business needs an emergency loan to recover from flood damage, they need to have an application filled out with the SBA before the deadline, Skaggs said. "We want to get assistance to people who need it, but if you don’t get an application in, we probably can’t help you," he said.

The SBA has lent about $1.8 million around the state to help businesses recover from the floods, and about $250,000 in Milwaukee County, Skaggs said. Average loan amounts in southeastern Wisconsin have been about $24,000.

To help businesses affected by the flooding, the SBA opened a Business Recovery Center at 10310 W. Watertown Plank Road, Wauwatosa. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, visit http://www.sba.gov/localresources/district/wi/index.html.

Modine restructuring plan moves forward
Racine-based Modine Manufacturing Co., which is in the midst of a restructuring plan, posted fiscal first quarter net earnings of $7.8 million, or 24 cents per share, which was down from $11.0 million, or 34 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The company’s quarterly net sales grew to $499.7 million from $444.2 million. During the quarter, Modine completed its previously announced sale of its Electronics Cooling business.

"Our first quarter fiscal 2009 performance is on track with our expectations and underscores the long term viability of the Modine business model. During the quarter, we saw underlying sales improvement, excluding the impact of foreign currency exchange rates, of 5.4 percent, reflecting continued solid contributions from our European, South American and Commercial Products segments. Even though our sales pipeline continues to grow, fiscal 2009 remains very much a year of blocking and tackling as we implement our four-point recovery plan and focus on developing a more competitive cost base," said Modine chief executive officer Thomas Burke.

"The announced closures of three manufacturing facilities in North America and another in Europe are proceeding on schedule and should result in annualized benefits in a range of $20 million to $25 million when fully implemented by the end of fiscal 2010," Burke said.

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