Briggs and Stratton may not have produced motorcycles in during their 112-year history, but their diminutive engines powered untold numbers of homemade minibikes during that period. Founded my Stephen Foster Briggs and Harold M. Stratton in 1908 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the company recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.


Briggs and Stratton-powered minibike. Credit:

Known primarily for producing lawnmower engines, the company produced generators during World War II, and when the post-war period produced a boom in suburban growth, and the need for lawnmowers, Briggs and Stratton grew with it. Now based in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, the company’s development of the lightweight aluminum engine in 1953 helped cement its place in small engine history, and its growth in homemade minibike development.

During this century, the company engaged in a series of acquisitions, not all of which produced the necessary value, and recent plant closures followed declining sales. Massive debt and the effects of the COVID19 pandemic pushed Briggs over the edge into filing for Chapter 11, securing debtor-in-possession financing of $677.5 million from KPS Capital Partners LP.

Filed in St. Louis, Missouri, the bankruptcy filing states debts of more than $1 billion. Todd Teske, President and CEO, said in a statement, “Over the past several months, we have explored multiple options with our advisors to strengthen our financial position and flexibility. The challenges we have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic have made reorganization the difficult but necessary and appropriate path forward to secure our business. It also gives us support to execute on our strategic plans to bring greater value to our customers and channel partners. Throughout this process, Briggs & Stratton products will continue to be produced, distributed, sold and fully backed by our dedicated team.”


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