Briggs & Stratton: A Timeline of Events Leading to its Closure

Briggs & Stratton, a renowned manufacturer of small engines and outdoor power equipment, has been a prominent figure in the industry for over a century. However, the company’s recent announcement of closure has sent shockwaves through the business world and sparked discussion about the events that led to this decision. From its humble beginnings in 1908 to its rise as a global leader in the outdoor power equipment market, the story of Briggs & Stratton is a compelling narrative of innovation, success, and eventual challenges.

In this article, we will explore the key turning points and challenges faced by Briggs & Stratton over the years, examining the factors that have contributed to its closure. By delving into the timeline of events leading to this significant development, we aim to provide insight into the strategic and operational circumstances that have shaped the company’s trajectory and ultimately led to this pivotal moment.

Key Takeaways
Briggs & Stratton, a leading manufacturer of small engines and outdoor power equipment, filed for bankruptcy on July 20, 2020, marking the end of its 110-year run in the industry. The company’s financial struggles and debt burden ultimately led to its demise, impacting thousands of employees and dealers worldwide.

The Founding Of Briggs & Stratton

Briggs & Stratton was founded in 1908 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by Stephen Foster Briggs and Harold M. Stratton. The company quickly became a leader in the small engine and outdoor power equipment industry, known for its innovative products and strong commitment to quality. Briggs & Stratton’s early success can be attributed to its production of the first lightweight aluminum engine, which revolutionized the industry and set the stage for the company’s future growth.

Throughout the 20th century, Briggs & Stratton continued to expand its product line, manufacturing engines for various applications including lawn mowers, generators, and outdoor power equipment. The company’s dedication to research and development led to numerous technological advancements in engine design, solidifying its reputation as an industry pioneer. The founding of Briggs & Stratton marked the beginning of a legacy that would span over a century, leaving a lasting impact on the small engine manufacturing industry.

Growth And Expansion

Briggs & Stratton’s growth and expansion were significant factors in shaping the company’s trajectory. The company saw remarkable evolution from its humble beginnings in 1908 as a small engine manufacturer to becoming a dominant player in the outdoor power equipment industry. Over the years, the company expanded its product line to include lawnmowers, snow blowers, generators, and other outdoor equipment, solidifying its position as a trusted brand for homeowners and professionals alike.

In order to meet growing demand, Briggs & Stratton established manufacturing facilities across the United States and globally, allowing the company to increase production while also tapping into new markets. Expansion also involved strategic acquisitions and partnerships, enabling the company to diversify its offerings and further strengthen its market presence. However, rapid growth and expansion also brought challenges, including increased competition, shifting consumer demand, and evolving industry trends, which ultimately impacted the company’s long-term success.

Despite facing headwinds, Briggs & Stratton’s growth and expansion initiatives played a pivotal role in shaping the company’s identity and influence within the outdoor power equipment industry, leaving a lasting legacy as a pioneer in engine and equipment manufacturing.

Challenges Faced By Briggs & Stratton

Certainly! Here’s a brief on the challenges faced by Briggs & Stratton:

Briggs & Stratton faced a multitude of challenges that ultimately led to its closure. One of the primary challenges was the shift in consumer preference towards electric-powered outdoor equipment, which significantly impacted the demand for the company’s traditional gas-powered engines. This trend forced the company to adapt its product offerings and invest in electric technology, putting a strain on its resources and profitability.

In addition, the company also struggled with high levels of debt, partly attributed to its acquisition of various businesses and the economic downturn, which further strained its financial position. The competitive landscape and pricing pressures in the outdoor power equipment industry also posed significant challenges for Briggs & Stratton, making it difficult for the company to maintain its market share and profitability. These challenges, combined with changes in consumer behavior and market dynamics, created a difficult operating environment for the company, ultimately leading to its closure.

Decline And Financial Struggles

Briggs & Stratton’s decline and financial struggles began around 2012 when the company reported a significant drop in sales and a substantial decrease in profits. The weakening demand for lawn equipment and the impact of a slow economic recovery were major contributors to the company’s financial difficulties. In addition, the company’s large debt, resulting from expensive acquisitions and expansion plans, added significant financial strain.

The decline was further exacerbated by increasing competition from low-cost Asian manufacturers and a shift in consumer preferences towards electric and battery-powered outdoor equipment. This change in the market demanded heavy investment in R&D and production upgrades, which Briggs & Stratton struggled to afford. The company also faced internal challenges such as mismanagement and a lack of innovation, which further hindered its ability to navigate the changing landscape of the industry.

As a result, the company experienced a downward spiral, leading to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in 2020 and eventual closure. The decline and financial struggles of Briggs & Stratton serve as a sobering reminder of the consequences of industry changes, financial missteps, and the failure to adapt to shifting market demands.

Attempts At Restructuring

In an attempt to salvage the struggling company, Briggs & Stratton embarked on a series of restructuring efforts. These measures included the closure of several production facilities and the consolidation of operations to cut costs and streamline operations. The company also announced plans to divest non-core assets and realign its business to focus on its core products and markets.

Additionally, Briggs & Stratton pursued debt restructuring and sought financial assistance to overcome its liquidity challenges. The company engaged in discussions with its creditors to restructure its debt obligations and improve its financial position. Furthermore, it explored potential partnerships and collaborations to infuse capital and expertise into the business, with the aim of revitalizing its operations and fortifying its position in the market.

Despite these proactive steps, the company faced an uphill battle in its efforts to turn around its fortunes. In the face of mounting operational and financial hurdles, Briggs & Stratton’s attempts at restructuring ultimately fell short of reversing its downward trajectory, leading to the eventual closure of the iconic engine manufacturer.

Impact Of The Covid-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Briggs & Stratton, exacerbating challenges the company was already facing. The pandemic led to widespread disruptions in supply chains and decreased consumer demand, creating additional financial strain for the company. With reduced economic activity and uncertainty in the market, the company struggled to maintain its operations and remain competitive.

The pandemic also forced Briggs & Stratton to reevaluate its business strategy and make difficult decisions to adapt to the changing landscape. The company faced operational challenges, including implementing safety measures to protect employees and navigating the shift to remote work where feasible. These disruptions further contributed to the company’s financial instability and added to its existing difficulties, ultimately playing a role in the timeline of events that led to its closure.

Bankruptcy And Closure

Following the financial challenges faced by Briggs & Stratton, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2020. This marked a significant turning point in the company’s longstanding history, as it struggled to restructure its debts and seek potential buyers for its assets. The bankruptcy filing sent shockwaves through the industry, with many speculating about the future of the iconic brand and its impact on the broader manufacturing sector.

Unfortunately, despite efforts to reorganize and secure a viable path forward, Briggs & Stratton was unable to find a buyer or investor to rescue the company. As a result, the closure of the business became inevitable. The news of the closure saddened many loyal employees, industry partners, and customers who had relied on Briggs & Stratton’s products and innovation for decades. The bankruptcy and closure not only marked the end of an era for the company but also sent ripples throughout the industry, serving as a cautionary tale of the challenges faced by traditional manufacturing companies in the modern marketplace.

Legacy Of Briggs & Stratton

Briggs & Stratton’s legacy in the small engine and outdoor power equipment industry is deeply entrenched. For over a century, it has been a symbol of American engineering prowess and innovation. The company’s pioneering work in small engines has left an indelible mark on the landscape of lawn care, agriculture, and construction. Its commitment to quality and reliability has earned the trust of countless customers and businesses worldwide.

Despite the unfortunate closure, the legacy of Briggs & Stratton will endure. Many of its products are still used and cherished by homeowners, landscapers, and contractors. The company’s contributions to the development of small engines and power equipment have had a lasting impact on the industry. The Briggs & Stratton name will continue to be associated with the innovation and durability that have set standards for the generations of products that follow.


In retrospect, the timeline of events leading to the closure of Briggs & Stratton exemplifies the impact of global economic challenges on longstanding industry leaders. The company’s journey from its founding in 1908 to its recent bankruptcy filing is a sobering reminder of the need for continuous adaptation and innovation in today’s business landscape. As we reflect on these developments, it becomes evident that proactive measures and strategic foresight are imperative for sustained success in the competitive market.

In light of this, the Briggs & Stratton case serves as a cautionary tale for businesses across sectors, underlining the significance of robust financial planning, market diversification, and agile management. By recognizing the warning signs and leveraging lessons from this narrative, companies can navigate uncertainty and fortify their resilience, ultimately safeguarding their longevity and relevance in an ever-evolving global economy.

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