Briggs & Stratton’s decision to no longer place its lawn and garden products at national mass retailers means a renewed focus on dealers, says Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Todd Teske in an interview with Rural Lifestyle Dealer.

“For dealers, basically our focus for lawn and garden is on them. What they can expect to see from us going forward is a lot of attention, investments in new products and ways to make it easier to do business with us,” Teske says.

Teske says the decision, which went into effect with the fiscal year start in July, is part of a “three-pillar” strategy.

  1. Make sure the engine business is growing and profitable. “Briggs & Stratton is an engine company and engines will be an important part of our company going forward,” says Teske.
  1. Selling and growing the company through higher margin products. “When you look at a dealer piece of equipment and a mass market piece of equipment, the margin structure is different. This was a major driver in our decision,” he says.
  1. Growing the company’s presence in emerging markets.

Todd Teske

“The U.S. and Europe have been struggling and other areas are growing. We are actively looking for ways to grow business in those areas.”

Teske says the company’s entry into supplying lawn and garden to mass retailers began when it purchased the assets of Murray in 2005, as part of Murray’s bankruptcy agreement.

“We just weren’t structured correctly to hit the price points,” he says. “Manufacturing has to be extremely efficient at high volumes. For our engine business, we do that well.”

He says instead the company felt the right direction was to build on the strength of the Simplicity, Ferris and Snapper brands.

“When you do lower volumes, the quality is generally better. There is good quality to the mass retailers and better quality goes into the dealer channel. We wanted to take advantage of our processes for higher-end consumers with higher-end demands,” Teske says. The company is evaluating the future of the brands sold through mass retailers.

Who will help the company make this decision work? You, the dealer.

“Our focus is on the ownership experience of the user. If someone is even thinking about buying equipment, we want to understand their problems and their needs. We want to make sure we have an offering from the product to the service side.

“The dealer is a really critical part of the ownership experience. The relationship between the dealer and the manufacturer is critical to delivering the value proposition to the customer,” Teske says. “We really believe there is a whole category of users who really appreciate and desire higher-end equipment to get the job done well and have the satisfaction of taking care of their properties.”

He says the company is having its dealer meetings now and introducing 40 new updated products and improved dealer communication methods.

“Dealers are the north star for that part of our business,” Teske says.