It’s been about a month since Rural Lifestyle Dealer broke the news about Briggs & Stratton discontinuing Simplicity and Snapper tractors and zero-turns. In the last few weeks, editors have heard several dealers say they’d not been receiving many of their orders from Simplicity in the last few years. One Simplicity dealer said some dealers are having a hard time even getting a hold of Simplicity. 

Rural Lifestyle Dealer reached out to Briggs & Stratton for comment, but did not hear back. 

With this in mind, we asked Simplicity and Snapper dealers how the news will affect their business, and non-Simplicity/Snapper dealers to share their thoughts on what this news means for the future of Briggs & Stratton. These are their responses.

“We have been a Snapper/Briggs dealer for 60 plus years and are disappointed with Briggs. They have not even given dealers a letter announcing their intentions. They are supposed to be making Stihl mowers and doubt if that will continue. Briggs has not been able to fill our orders for the last 2 years. Briggs is under poor management and just a matter of time and they will not be around much longer. My business will be minimal in the future as we now have to introduce a complete new line of mowers.”

– Eldean Reinke, Reinke’s Farm & City Service, Neligh, Neb.

“My dealership has been a Snapper dealer for decades, Simplicity for over a decade and a Ferris dealer for the majority of the past decade. We have chosen to go in a new path for a couple reasons. 

“I will start by saying that our family-owned dealership recently was part of a transition into True Ag & Turf. Three single stores coming together with plans of becoming many more stores in the near future. Our recent decisions are about the future of a multi-store organization. However, the recent dealings that we had with Briggs were a definitive justification for our brands that we choose to build with.

“I will start with 10 years ago when B&S wanted to know if the dealer network would be willing to do warranty work for products sold through box stores. Then in 2019 when Briggs had a dealer meeting to show us their new Oneida, N.Y., production facility, we as dealers were given incentives to order 150% of our 3-year average. So many of us ordered 150% of our 3-year average, only to be treated with a letter informing us of B&S bankruptcy as soon as that inventory hit the ground in the spring of 2020. 

“Then the third strike was when we were struggling to get inventory, but B&S announced its decision to build inventory for Stihl. They didn’t have the labor or components to build enough of their own product, why would they think they could build something for someone else on top of their own? Even through 2023 we struggled with inventory availability. 

“So as we put plans together for aggressive growth, we could not depend on them as a partner we could trust. They were our first choice in product, we have history with their product, we have customers with their product that we need and will take care of. However, we have gone in a whole new direction with another brand. The Ferris product was fantastic, but the business behind it was a mess.”

– Mitch Merz, True Ag & Turf, Osmond, Neb.

“Yes, it has affected us. We were a Snapper lawn equipment and Simplicity snow thrower retailer.

“The Snapper side has been dwindling the last 5-10 years. What killed that market for us is when Wal-Mart sold Snapper at a lower price than we could. The difference with the Wal-Mart inventory was a licensed product actually built by Husqvarna. We on the other hand had the true Snapper product, which is a lot more expensive. All the customer saw was the brand and the price, and of course we were over charging for the product.

“Snow throwers, being in northern Minnesota, are a must. Simplicity’s were good. That is the piece of our inventory we need to find a replacement for. 

“As for information, we  received word through a trade group publication. Emailed our rep to confirm. All I can figure is the new investors were looking for a tax write off. Looks an awful like the Sears financial ending.”

– Dave Smith, MJB Home Center, Bemidji, Mont.

“My thoughts on Briggs & Stratton — they should never gotten into the wholegoods mower business! I knew right away it was going to cost them a lot of OEM engine business. They became competitors to every brand of mower. Why would an OEM buy from them when they are competing against them?  

“Two or three years ago I received a call from our Briggs parts distributor in the fall. They informed me that in order to keep my Briggs contract, I would have to give them a $1,500 parts order. The reason they gave was I didn't buy enough that year from them. I informed them that it's hard to buy anything, when they don't have any stock and no promised date for the parts. I also informed them that when I became a Brigg's dealer 40 years ago, they required a $1,200 order of parts at their choice. I still have 70% of that order on my shelf!  

“To make a long story short, I told them I would not be bullied by any company. Just cancel my contract and buy back my parts! They said they weren't buying back my inventory. I informed them Iowa has a ’strong buy back law on the books and I quoted them the code number and told them they better do their homework. 

“The next day I received a call saying they will buy my stock back. I sent back the parts and received a check in the mail a few months later. A few months after that, I noticed in the news that they filed for bankruptcy. I was really glad I gave up my contract with them. Will the company keep going? I would not want any stock in the organization. I hope it survives because we need competition, but we also need service!”

— Richard Badrick, Badrick’s Service and Sales, Miles, Iowa

“We have been a Snapper dealer since 1977 and a Simplicity dealer for around 10 years. In typical Briggs fashion, we haven’t heard anything since the announcement. Our rep quit before the season started, and we have been an inhouse dealer since. There hasn’t been communication since the summer sale program. Nothing about what plans there are for the shutdown, nothing for assistance for the now devalued equipment.

“Once gone, they won’t be missed, as this has been expected for a couple of years now.  We have moved on.”

– Michael P. Grollmus, Al-Joes, Hamilton, Ohio

Rural Lifestyle Dealer also received some responses from non-Simplicity and Snapper dealers, which can be found below.

“I am not surprised by seeing Simplicity and Snapper be discontinued in North America. If you think about it, before Briggs bought Murray, Ferris, Simplicity and Snapper, they were an engine company. That was their focus. Only Briggs knows if this is a move to sell it once again or to focus on engines, both gas and electric. They do plan to keep Ferris, because it is successful and can manage on their own most likely.”

— John D. Hedges, Medart Inc., Arnold, Mo.

“We knew that they were going to kill the Snapper brand soon, but did not see the Simplicity brand being killed. I am sure someone drawing a well deserved 6- or 7-digit salary didn’t give any consideration to the economic impact on some dealers that were loyal dealers for years (maybe even a lifetime ) what this action would cause them. 

“I hope that all those dealers are checking with their dealer organization or attorneys to find out what legal rights they have. In many states, there are buyback laws to force the manufacturers to take back most equipment and parts.”

— Carl Witte, Maximum Outdoor Equipment & Service, Wichita, Kan.

“I think this came as a surprise to most dealers. Fortunately, Snapper and Simplicity weren’t any dealer’s primary line. It was in some cases a dealer's tractor line, walk mower option, and for some snowblower option. I know it hurt some dealers more than others but again it wasn’t a dealer’s primary line. It is hard and difficult to have these kinds of challenges but hopefully dealers will find options and solutions to fill this void. Hopefully, the communication from Snapper and Simplicity to address and help their dealers remains in place for parts and service for retailed units in the field as well as the balance of inventory in the field. As a Dealer Development Manager for North American Equipment Dealers Assn., I will do what I can to help provide as much help and support to our dealer members.”

— Dale W. Magie, Dealer Development Manager, North American Equipment Dealers Assn.