Everyone’s Favorite Small Engine Company, Briggs & Stratton, Files for Bankruptcy

Five horsepower wasn't enough to bail them out of this mess.

Car sales are down across the board, as are the sales of pretty much everything except cleaning products, toilet paper, and bicycles. As of yet, no automakers have declared bankruptcy, but at least one engine manufacturer—Briggs & Stratton—isn’t doing so well. As of July 20, the company has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, MarketWatch reports. And while that doesn’t mean they’re going out of business right now, it’s certainly bad news.

In their bankruptcy filing, the Wisconsin-based fortune 1000 company stated they had over $1 billion in debt from creditors, but these financial woes arent anything new. Briggs’ stock price has been in a slow decline since 2017, which was also the last time the company wasn’t operating at a loss. In fact, its stock price has been in decline since 2004, which is when it peaked at $40.00. Today, the company’s stock sells for around $0.80.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean the business is just going to disappear. Chapter 11 bankruptcy means the company is restructuring with the help of creditors in an attempt to get back to making money. In fact, part of Briggs’ bankruptcy filing includes a $550-million bid to purchase the company from New York-based KPS partners, a private equity firm that owns other brands, including TaylorMade golf clubs and Life Fitness gym equipment. KPS specializes in managing manufacturing companies, so they’re likely a good buyer for Briggs. There are others in the mix, however.

Briggs & Stratton has been making small engines of various displacements and configurations since 1908, but their most famous model is the versatile single-cylinder, five-horsepower model known colloquially as the “five-horse Briggs.” Its flathead, air-cooled design makes it one of the simplest engines out there, and it finds itself in various applications such as lawnmowers, snowblowers, and go-karts. It also has a variety of other, more unconventional uses, which we’ve covered.

So while bankruptcy is certainly bad for Briggs & Stratton, it isn’t the end. The company will be re-organized and hopefully, return to profit. But even if the company did go bust, I wouldn’t worry about a shortage of spare parts. Briggs makes nearly ten million engines every year, and they’re absolutely everywhere. 

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