An expected slowdown in lawn and garden equipment sales last year never fully materialized. In fact, demand resurged during the summer, engines manufacturer Briggs & Stratton emerged from Chapter 11 restructuring under a new owner in September, and its Statesboro factory is now hiring.
“The Statesboro plant currently has 50 jobs to be filled on a variety of shifts and departments throughout the plant,” Human Resources Manager Mandy See writes in mid-February 2021 email. “We need them filled immediately.”
Openings are mostly for technicians and operator-level positions, but several salaried and support-level jobs are also available, she said.
25 million built
Located in Bulloch County’s Gateway Industrial Park, the plant is a big manufacturer of small engines, including Briggs & Statton’s rugged Vanguard Small Block V-Twin commercial engines as well as a line of “residential” engines used in consumer machines from mowers to pressure washers.
Since it opened in 1995, the Statesboro factory has built more than 25 million engines. It currently employs about 500 people to turn out about 1,800 consumer engines and more than 300 Vanguard commercial engines daily.
Vanguard V-Twin production, previously based in Japan in a joint venture, was brought home to the United States in 2018 by Briggs & Stratton, specifically to its Statesboro, Georgia, and Auburn, Alabama, plants.
The vertically integrated Statesboro plant has a die-casting department that melts aluminum ingots and casts engine blocks and other parts both for the plant’s own assembly lines and those at the Auburn plant, which builds the Big Block version of the Vanguard V-Twin.
Out of Chapter 11
After the COVID-19 pandemic clamped down on the economy last spring, Briggs & Stratton Corp., a 113-year-old company based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July. The company simultaneously announced an agreement to sell most of its assets to KPS Capital Partners.
Under this new ownership, the company emerged from Chapter 11 reorganization just two months later as Briggs and Stratton LLC, with a new chief executive officer.
“Many of the external challenges that seemed to hit the company all at once are starting to stabilize: weather is in our favor; the stay-at-home environment has positively impacted our business … and, we’re now a well-capitalized company, unencumbered by past liabilities, so we can focus on growth,” Briggs & Stratton President and CEO Steve Andrews proclaimed in an Oct. 27 media release.
“In the first three months of our fiscal year, nearly all parts of our business globally are performing stronger than last year,” he said. “In fact, this is a better start than we’ve seen in a number of years.”
Briggs & Stratton did lay off some employees of the Statesboro plant early in the pandemic, but brought them all back in August to meet surging demand, See said.
The KPS Capital Partners ownership is investing anew in the consumer engines side of production at the plant, as well as updating equipment such as die-casting machines, she said. Briggs & Stratton Corp. previously made a major investment in the commercial Vanguard V-Twin production, and all along devoted substantial resources to employee training and benefits.
A new on-site health clinic, offering primary as well as preventive care to all employees and their dependents, opened at the Statesboro plant in July 2020.
"This has been a great benefit for our employees," See said.
Locally, Briggs & Stratton maintains active relationships with the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce and the Development Authority of Bulloch County. It works with Ogeechee Technical College, Georgia Southern University and the Bulloch County Schools on programs to grow a skilled and adaptable workforce and expose students to career opportunities.
Meanwhile, Briggs & Stratton has ventured into the lithium-ion battery market for electric vehicles such as golf carts with completion of a Tucker, Georgia, plant. After starting production last summer, the battery plant now employs more than 100 people and is expected to grow, See said. Still based here, she is now human resources manager for both Statesboro and Tucker, Briggs' only Georgia-based manufacturing facilities.
In addition to joining a growing company, future employees will receive a balanced schedule, a 401(k) plan, vacation time, competitive benefits, wellness incentives, a 75% tuition reimbursement for job-related education and bonus opportunities, See indicated in an email.
If you’re interested in joining the Briggs & Stratton team, visit careers.basco.com for available opportunities and to apply.