Briggs & Stratton Commercial 1986
The company was Launched in 1908 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is now based in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Briggs & Stratton engines are commonly used on lawnmowers, pressure washers, electrical generators, go-karts, and a wide variety of other applications. Their original cast-iron engines were known for their durability, but the company's success was established following the development of lightweight aluminum engines in 1953. The aluminum engine was the perfect solution for the recently invented rotary lawnmower due to its lighter weight and lower cost.
The company started in 1908 as an informal partnership between Stephen Foster Briggs and Harold M. Stratton. S.F. Briggs was born in Watertown, South Dakota, and graduated from South Dakota State College ((SDSC) now South Dakota State University) in Brookings in 1907. The idea for his first product came from an upper-level engineering class project at SDSC. This first product was a six-cylinder, two-cycle engine, which Stephen Foster Briggs developed during his engineering courses at South Dakota State. After his graduation, he was eager to produce his engine and enter the rapidly expanding automobile industry. Bill Juneau, a coach at South Dakota State, knew of Briggs' ambition and the entrepreneurial interests of Harold M. Stratton, a successful grain merchant who had a farm next to Juneau's farm, so he introduced the two. In 1922, their fledgling company set a record in the automotive industry, selling the Briggs & Stratton Flyer (the "Red Bug") at record low prices of US$125-$150.
Eventually, Briggs and Stratton settled on manufacturing automotive components and small gasoline engines. Briggs purchased an engine patent from A.O. Smith Company and began powering early washing machines and reel mowers as well as many other types of equipment. The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1928.
During World War II, Briggs & Stratton produced generators for the war effort. Some pre-war engines were made with aluminum, which helped the company develop its expertise in using this material. This development, along with the post-war growth of 1950s suburbs (and lawns), helped secure Briggs & Stratton's successful growth throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
Stephen Briggs went on to purchase Evinrude and Johnson Outboards and start the Outboard Marine Corporation. Frederick P. Stratton Sr. (the son of Harold Stratton) served as Chairman of Briggs & Stratton until his death in 1962 (Harold also died that year). Frederick P. Stratton Jr. served as Chairman until his retirement in 2001.
In 1995, Briggs & Stratton sold the automotive component business. The resulting company is Strattec Security Corporation.
In 2000, the company acquired its consumer generator business from the Beacon Group and formed Briggs & Stratton Power Products. The Beacon Group had previously purchased the Consumer Products Division of Generac Corporation (now Generac Power Systems) in 1998. In 2005, the company added Simplicity Manufacturing Inc, and Snapper, Inc, to the Briggs & Stratton Power Products line. Murray, Inc, one of its largest customers, collapsed owing the company $40 million, and to minimize the loss Briggs & Stratton purchased the name, marketing rights and product designs of that company. In 2008, Briggs & Stratton announced it would be acquiring the Victa Lawn Care business from GUD Holdings Limited Australia for A$23 million.
On July 20, 2020, Briggs & Stratton filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.