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Briggs closing Port Washington Simplicity plant

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Just saw this article on YardnGarden.com. Briggs will be shutting down the Port Washington, WI plant that has made Simplicity tractors forever. They will shift production to other company owned U.S. plants. They say they have "excess manufacturing capacity". I thought that Simplicity had put lots of money into the Port Washington plant in the last few years to bring things up to more modern standards. Article states that the current union contract runs out October 15, 2008, then the doors will close. I will bet that this is the next step on the way to no more Simplicity brand products. They will all be Snappers. More name brand recognition to Snapper. Maybe even all called Briggs & Stratton.... What a shame. Can't say that this hasn't been coming for a while though, knowing the past history of the company and the way it's ownership has been passed around so many times. Tim

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Yes, the Simplicity production is moving to the Snapper plant in Georgia. The current labor contract at Simplicity expires in Oct. 2008. However, Simplicity employees are beginning to trickle away as they find new jobs outside of Simplicity. Actual production at Port Washington may end before Oct. 2008. When B&S says "excess mfg. capacity", you can read between the lines as "lower labor costs in Georgia". My Simplicity dealer tells me that the Simplicity & Snapper tractors will eventually be identical with different paint, but the Simplicity's will still have the floating mower deck they are famous for, while the Snappers will retain their present decks. The Simplicity products will continue to be sold through Simplicity dealers while the Snapper products will be seen in the big box retailers. Of course, that is the word today...things may change next week! Look what B&S said in 2004 when they bought Simplicity: "Nothing will change!" Yea, right! One thing is for sure, you won't see Kohler engines in them for long. More & more of the models are changing to B&S engines. Big surprise. A sad end to a proud 80-year tradition in Port Washington!

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Tim and I were just talking last week about how Briggs was making it hard for anyone to deal with them. Its a sad thing to hear that they will close the plant. Here in Michigan as one plant after another closes our economy gets worse and worse. It appears that the only plan in Michigan if for Jennifer [Governor] to have the last 5 people left draw straws to see who turns out the lights when they leave. Even Briggs sold their brand new foundry here a couple of years ago, even a state of the art factory has a hard time competing with the folks offshore and down south.

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