Friday, January 27, 2012

Briggs & Stratton Shutting Plants, to Cut 767 Jobs

Readers might wonder if reading through so many layoff notices ever gets tedious. My answer to that would be: not really, because while the media's bigger picture economic stories are often full of spin and obfuscation, these types of articles often contain little snippets of the truth. For instance, there is this story from the Seattle PI about big layoffs coming to small engine manufacturer Briggs & Stratton:
Engine maker Briggs & Stratton Corp. on Thursday said it will close a plant in Tennessee and shift the work to Georgia, eliminating about 690 jobs in the U.S., as it adjusts to a changing market for outdoor equipment.

The company is also closing a plant in the Czech Republic, which will result in 77 job cuts there. It is shifting that work to a Kentucky factory.
So far, so good. But here's the rub:
The moves reflect sharp declines in demand for U.S. lawn and garden products. Briggs & Stratton said the market has declined more than 33 percent since 2004.

"This significant and prolonged market decline is unlike any other this industry has seen in decades," said CEO Todd Teske in a release. The actions "will better align our production capacity to the markets we serve."
That was actually quite a refreshing bit of honesty there from Briggs & Stratton CEO Todd Teske. Maybe we need a new Lawn and Garden Products sales index to measure the real state of the U.S. economy. It would be a far more accurate indicator than any of the numbers produced by the Bureau of Labor Lying Statistics these days.


  1. Carpet cleaners use motors made by the likes of Briggs & Stratton. I'm sure the sales of truck-mounted carpet cleaning equipment show a similar 30-something percent decline in the past 8 years.

    These are the indicators that stare many of us in the face, but few are willing to acknowledge.

  2. Well, good. The American lawn is a travesty. The equipment used to maintain them (never mind the chemicals) are far worse than cars in terms of emissions...unless you use sheep.

    A mixed flower and vegetable garden provides good food, exercise, mental therapy, beauty - and the disappearing bees will be appreciative.

    1. The late, great Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko used to derisively refer to suburbanites as "lawnheads." The term kind of stuck with me. :)

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