On Wednesday, Briggs and Stratton Corp., Wauwatosa, Wisconsin-based, announced a “business optimization program,” which is expected to generate up to $35 million in savings annually by fiscal 2019.
The plan will cost $50-$55 million and includes expanding production of Vanguard commercial engines into the company’s existing large engine plants, which adds capacity for Ferris commercial mowers at a new facility. The company says this will implement an upgraded enterprise resource planning system and other “operational excellence efficiency improvements.”
Sourcing the majority of Vanguard engines overseas under a joint venture with Daihatsu Motor Co., the engines are used in a number of applications including commercial turf care, fire and rescue, construction and golf course equipment. Production for Briggs & Stratton will be expanded to Auburn, Alabama, and Statesboro, Georgia.
The company plans to begin production of its Ferris commercial mowers in a new facility near its Munnsville, New York, operation during the second half of fiscal 2018; Briggs and Stratton will look to sell the current facility and a remote warehouse in fiscal 2019.
Briggs and Stratton chairman, president and CEO Todd Teske said the company has grown sales of commercial-oriented products by $180 million, or 70 percent, over the past five years.
Setting a company record for commercial-type product sales in fiscal 2017 at $434 million, which is a seven percent increase, revenue overall was down 1.3 percent, to $1.79 billion. Teske attributed the drop to lower-than-expected shipments of residential outdoor power equipment, regional pockets of suboptimal growing conditions and merchandising inventory changes by North American channel partners.
Up from last year’s $26.6 million, net income for this year was $56.7 million, although the company did incur the same level of pension settlement or restructuring expenses as fiscal 2016. Earnings improved to $1.31 per diluted share from 60 cents last year, or an adjusted $1.25, and adjusted net income was up three percent from $55 million.
Net income improved from $5.4 million to $19.7 million for the fourth quarter, although it was down slightly compared to 2016’s adjusted figure of $20.1 million, and adjusted earnings were flat at 46 cents per diluted share but were up from a reported 12 cents last year.
The engines segment saw revenue decline 7.2 percent, to $292.5 million, and the products segment was down by six percent, to $203.4 million. Briggs and Stratton implemented a new method for recording overseas engine sales, but on a comparable basis engine volumes were down four percent, or approximately 80,000 engines.
“We have observed improved growing conditions throughout the season, but continue to see a cautious approach to reordering as channel partners have focused on controlling inventory to abnormally low levels,” Teske said.
Davey announces executive promotions
The Davey Tree Expert Company announced two promotions to the executive vice president level.
Gregory Ina has been promoted to executive vice president of The Davey Institute and employee development.
Ina has played several different roles with increasing responsibility in his time with the company, and most recently his leadership role was expanded to also include management of recruiting and employee development.
“Greg’s promotion to executive vice president is a testament to his strong leadership, diverse skill set and innovative business strategy,” said Pat Covey, president and CEO of Davey Tree. “He will play a critical role in the continued growth of the company and positioning Davey as the innovators of the industry.”
He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Kent State University and specialized in geographic information systems.
Twenty-two years ago, Ina began his career with Davey as a geographic information systems intern with the Davey Resource Group (DRG).
Ina was promoted to general manager of The Davey Institute in 2006, and in 2009 he was named vice president and general manager of The Davey Institute.
Brent Repenning has been promoted to executive vice president of U.S. Utility and the Davey Resource Group.
“Through Brent’s many years with the company, he’s shown an unmatched ability to successfully attack any challenge he confronts,” said Covey. “He’s a true leader in the sense that he not only delivers results in numbers, but he also has a knack for bringing on and retaining excellent people for our company.”
Joining Davey in 1994 as an intern/data collector with Davey Resource Group, the company says that Repenning held positions of increasing responsibility until becoming vice president of eastern operations for DRG in 2009. He was named vice president and general manager of DRG in 2010, and in 2016 he expanded his role to include eastern utility services and was promoted to senior vice president of Davey Resource Group and eastern utility operations. Repenning holds a bachelor’s degree in forestry from Ohio State University.
Blount International announces promotions
Blount International recently announced two promotions in their international and North American sales groups within their Forestry, Lawn & Garden (FLAG) division. Scott Harris has been promoted to vice president of North American sales, and Stephane Faucher has been promoted to vice president of international sales.
Joining from the French office in 2001 as a key account manager, Faucher has since held regional sales positions in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Europe, Scandinavia and Belgium. Blount says that Faucher has had vast experience in global leadership and has led teams in Brazil, India, Japan, Mexico and other countries. The company says that Faucher has always had a deep understanding of Blount’s customers and how to reach them across multiple channels, which Blount believes has been the key to its success in several markets.
First joining Blount in 1996 as a northeast territory manager where he was responsible for covering 13 states, Harris has since held various positions within the company including North American sales director, US sales manager servicing dealer group, brand development manager and North American servicing dealer group zone manager. Currently serving a second term as the president of the Outdoor Power Equipment Aftermarket Association, Harris has also previously sat on the board of directors for the Outdoor Power Equipment and Engine Service Association.