SHERRILL, N.Y. — Three years later, Briggs & Stratton has officially moved its Ferris operations from Munnsville, N.Y., to Sherrill, N.Y., expanding its production.
"What a beautiful place for a new facility," said Don Klenk, vice president of operations for Briggs and Stratton for the turf and consumer products group.
It was a time to celebrate as employees put down their tools for a moment and enjoy themselves at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility on Wednesday.
Klenk said the journey began three years ago when Briggs & Stratton realized they were at capacity at the Munnsville facility. The company moved to 100 E. Seneca Street in Sherrill and now boasts a 570,000-square-foot facility.
The business started in 1909 as businessman Jesse Ferris and milking machine inventor William Uebler began the Uebler Milking Machine Co. Unfortunately, by the mid-1980s, the third generation of the Ferris family saw their dairy farm customer base was dwindling along with profits.
Then Dave Ferris took a close look at another company’s lawnmower and decided his company could build a better one.
In 1986, they debuted their first Ferris mower at a trade show in New York City — and the rest is history.
Todd Teske, chairman, president and CEO of Briggs & Stratton Corporation said when he first arrived at the Sherrill facility after the purchase of the building, he saw several broken windows and other damage. The structure was due for a renovation, but it didn't deter him. "Everybody was worried about bringing me here for what I was going to think about this," Teske said. Turning to the new, pristine building, Teske said "I think it looks pretty good. What do you think?"
His question was met with applause from the crowd of more than 300 employees, workers and officials. "Ferris has come a long way," he added.
Teske said dealers are already booking, knowing that Briggs & Stratton's employees are making great equipment.
Harold Redman, senior vice president and president of Briggs & Stratton’s turf and consumer products group, said it's rewarding to see the business grow to the point that it needed a larger facility.
"We were in the old schoolhouse for 20 plus years," Redman said. "We put four additions on that schoolhouse, all because we built solid and good quality products that let us grow."
With the demand for products growing, Redman said the most important thing was maintaining the workforce when considering a new facility.
"We're proud of the workforce that builds this product. This workforce is 600 strong at this point," Redman said. "The dealers and customers are telling us we're building the finest products in the world. And we're going to continue doing that and I can't wait for the opportunity to expand beyond this facility."
Redman said even though there are 600 people currently employed at the Sherrill facility, more is needed and job opportunities are available.