- Toro Reports Record Fiscal 2017 Results
- From Scag Equipment-Crowson Retirement, Frame Named President
- Briggs & Stratton Acquired the Assets of Ground Logic
- California Emissions And Ethanol Misfuelling Challenges
- Stanley Black and Decker Bringing New Facility to Hartford, CT
- CPD Named Distributor of the Year by MTD Products
- Plan to Attend the EETC Annual Conference
- Thoughts for the Day
- OPEI 2018 Annual Meeting Speakers
- Generac’s Record Shipments Drive Significant Organic Growth; Outlook Raised for Full-year 2017
- Attorneys for Muslim workers file federal lawsuit against Ariens
- Billiou’s Legacy Reward Recipient
- Make Plans Now for the OPEESA Annual Meeting-February 25-28, 2018
- Sheffield Financial and Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. Announce a New Multi-year Retail Financing Contract
- Ariens Partners with Green Bay Packers to Sponsor Ariens Hill at Titletown
- STIHL American: Exemplary People–Extraordinary Times – Written by Stan Crader
Toro Reports Record Fiscal 2017 Results
BLOOMINGTON, Minn.–The Toro Company (NYSE: TTC) reported net earnings of $267.7 million, or $2.41 per share, on a net sales increase of 4.7 percent to $2.505 billion for its fiscal year ended October 31, 2017. In fiscal 2016, the company delivered net earnings of $231.0 million, or $2.06 per share for the year, on net sales of $2.392 billion. The Toro Company reports record 2017 results driven by golf, landscape contractor and rental businesses.
For the fourth quarter, Toro reported net earnings of $33.8 million or $0.31 per share, on a net sales increase of 4.3 percent to $488.6 million. In the comparable 2016 period, the company posted net earnings of $30.2 million on net sales of $468.4 million.
The company also announced that its board of directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.20 per share, a 14.3 percent increase from its previous quarterly dividend rate of $0.175 per share. This dividend is payable on January 10, 2018, to shareholders of record on December 22, 2017. For the fiscal year, the company returned nearly $236.0 million to shareholders through the payment of approximately $75.8 million in dividends and the repurchase of approximately 2.7 million shares of common stock.
“Fiscal 2017 was another record year for The Toro Company. We experienced solid sales growth fueled by new and innovative product offerings across our businesses,” said Richard M. Olson, Toro’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Strong performance in our golf, landscape contractor and rental businesses continued with the success of new products such as the Exmark® Radius® zero-turn riding mowers, the Greensmaster® series of greens mowers and the Dingo® TX 1000 compact utility loader. We continue to gain momentum in those markets and we are encouraged by retail trends. Our BOSS® snow and ice management business also had a strong year driven by the continued success of the EXT extendable plows and the V-Box spreaders, which elevate performance and enhance productivity.”
“Sales in our international business were up 5.6 percent for the year driven by our Australia-based Pope® residential product offerings and by the newly acquired Perrot line of professional irrigation products. We are pleased with the integration of Perrot and we are optimistic about the growth opportunity for that business as we expand distribution more broadly. Balanced performance across our professional turf product categories also bolstered international sales.”
“For the fourth quarter, our residential business generated solid growth with sales up 3.2 percent driven in part by the success of our Pope line and increased shipments of zero-turn riding mowers. Turning to our snow business, field inventory levels are in good shape and we are well prepared to address customers’ needs in the winter months ahead.”
“Fiscal 2017 marks the end of our three-year Destination PRIME initiative. I am proud of our team’s accomplishments. We achieved record revenue, exceeded profitability goals and made significant progress on improving working capital. With the launch of our new initiative, Vision 2020, we will once again focus on driving profitable growth with an emphasis on innovation and serving our customers, which will generate further momentum for the organization. It is the collective efforts of our employees that make these initiatives a success. I look forward to working together as we kickoff the next chapter.”
For fiscal 2018, the company expects revenue growth to exceed 4 percent, and net earnings to be about $2.57 to $2.63 per share. For the first quarter, the company expects net earnings to be about $0.42 to $0.44 per share.
Professional segment net sales for fiscal 2017 totaled $1.812 billion, up 6.2 percent from $1.705 billion last year. Strong performance across our professional businesses drove the positive results for the year. Solid demand for our Toro and Exmark branded landscape contractor equipment, golf, rental and specialty construction and our BOSS product line-ups were all contributing factors. For the fourth quarter, professional segment net sales were $360.4 million, up 4.9 percent from the comparable fiscal 2016 period. The growth was driven largely by the success of newly introduced products in our landscape contractor businesses and higher sales in our golf and specialty construction markets.
Professional segment earnings for fiscal 2017 totaled $379.5 million, up 7.8 percent from $352.1 million from the prior year. For the fourth quarter, professional segment earnings were $65.0 million, up from $59.7 million in the comparable fiscal 2016 period. Residential
Residential segment net sales for fiscal 2017 were $673.2 million, up 0.6 percent from $669.1 million last year. Despite mild in-season winter conditions and an inconsistent start to the spring months, increased sales of our Pope products and higher shipments of snow products, contributed to the favorable full year results. For the fourth quarter, residential segment net sales were $122.6 million, up 3.2 percent from the comparable fiscal 2016 period. Momentum in our international business drove the performance for the quarter with increased sales of our Pope product line in Australia.
Residential segment earnings for fiscal 2017 totaled $74.7 million, up 1.4 percent from fiscal 2016. For the fourth quarter, residential segment earnings were $11.7 million, up from $9.2 million in the comparable fiscal 2016 period.
Gross margin as a percent of sales for fiscal 2017 was up 20 basis points from last year to 36.8 percent. Margin improvement for the year was driven by favorable operational productivity and segment mix, partially offset by commodity headwinds and increased freight costs. For the fourth quarter, gross margin as a percent of sales increased 90 basis points to 37.7 percent. Margin improvement for the quarter was driven by favorable operational productivity and foreign currency exchange rates, partially offset by higher commodity costs.
Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expense as a percent of sales for fiscal 2017 was 22.6 percent, consistent with last year. For the fourth quarter, SG&A expense as a percent of sales increased 50 basis points to 28.0 percent. The quarterly increase was mainly driven by higher incentive program expenses. Operating earnings as a percent of sales for fiscal 2017 improved 20 basis points from last year to 14.2 percent. For the fourth quarter, operating earnings improved 40 basis points to 9.7 percent of sales.
The effective tax rate for fiscal 2017 was 24.2 percent, compared to 30.1 percent last year. The effective tax rate for the fourth quarter was 27.9 percent compared to 27.6 percent in the prior year. The change in the tax rate for the full year was mainly driven by adoption of the new share based accounting standard this fiscal year.
Accounts receivable at the end of fiscal 2017 totaled $183.1 million, up 12.1 percent from last year. Net inventories were $329.0 million, up 7.2 percent compared to the prior year. Trade payables were $211.8 million, up 21.2 percent from the prior year.
About The Toro Company
The Toro Company (NYSE: TTC) is a leading worldwide provider of innovative solutions for the outdoor environment, including turf, snow and ground-engaging equipment and irrigation and outdoor lighting solutions. With sales of $2.5 billion in fiscal 2017, Toro’s global presence extends to more than 125 countries. Through constant innovation and caring relationships built on trust and integrity, Toro and its family of brands have built a legacy of excellence by helping customers care for golf courses, landscapes, sports fields, public green spaces, commercial and residential properties and agricultural fields. For more information, visit www.thetorocompany.com.
From Scag Equipment-Crowson Retirement, Frame Named President
Scag Power Equipment announces the retirement of its president, John L. Crowson, effective January 1, 2018. Mr. Crowson joined Scag in 1992 and served in various executive positions during his tenure. He has served as president of Scag since 2008. Mr. Chris Frame, a 20 year veteran of Scag, and most recently Scag Vice President and General Manager, will succeed Mr. Crowson as President of Scag.
Mr. Crowson stated, “I am grateful for my time with Scag, and the outstanding support of our dealers, distributors, and employees throughout those years. Scag has enjoyed tremendous growth and is well-positioned to continue as a leader in the Outdoor Power Equipment Industry under the very capable leadership of Chris Frame and his team.”
Scag Power Equipment thanks Mr. Crowson for his many years of service and wishes him well in his retirement.
Scag Power Equipment, a division of Metalcraft of Mayville Inc., is one of the largest independent manufacturers of commercial lawn mowing equipment in the United States. Metalcraft of Mayville Inc., an ISO 9001:2008 Registered company, manufactures products in its three facilities, totaling over 850,000 square feet, located in Mayville, West Bend, and Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.
Briggs & Stratton Corp. Acquired the Assets of Ground Logic Inc.
On December 11, Briggs & Stratton Corp. acquired the assets of Ground Logic Inc. Lincoln, Nebraska-based Ground Logic designs and manufactures premium stand-on commercial spreaders and spreader/sprayers used to apply fertilizer and pesticide/herbicide to lawns. The products are targeted to consumer and commercial customers maintaining medium and large properties.
Briggs did not reveal the financial terms of the transaction. It was financed with cash on hand, and the company does not expect the deal to have a significant impact on its 2018 profit or cash flows.
“This acquisition supports Briggs & Stratton’s strategy to ‘fill out the trailer’ of the commercial lawn and turf professional, with highly-regarded products that are built to stand up to the toughest working demands,” said Harold Redman, senior vice president and group president – Turf & Consumer Products at Briggs & Stratton. “We will be able to use our industry-leading global distribution network to accelerate growth and are eager to add these products to our portfolio of outdoor power equipment to help commercial business owners get the job done.”
Ground Logic was sold by Brice Crawford. The company has seven employees, none of whom will be transferred to Briggs, said Miriah Zajic, vice president of operations at Ground Logic. “(Crawford) will provide the design work for a couple of years,” Zajic said.
But all of the employees will continue to work at Ground Logic sister company Rogue 10, which makes all-terrain products. The acquisition of Ground Logic will allow Briggs & Stratton to complete its turf product line, Zajic said. With six spreader types, Ground Logic has a larger product line than many of its competitors.
Briggs & Stratton is the largest manufacturer of gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment in the world. It also manufactures power generation, pressure washer, lawn and garden, turf care and job site products. The company reported $1.8 billion in fiscal 2017 revenue.
Stanley Black and Decker Bringing New Facility to Hartford, CT
New Britain–based Stanley Black & Decker announced they are putting a new advanced manufacturing center in the Hartford, CT. The facility will employ 50 professionals. “It’s a long-standing Connecticut company making a decision to make Hartford the focus of their future,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.
Bronin added, “We’re working to position Hartford and Connecticut to be the hub for innovation and re-imagining industry in all of our core industries, in insurance, in advanced manufacturing, and in health care.”
The new facility, the Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence and an Additive Manufacturing Accelerator in partnership with Techstars, will come with two key components.
The Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence will help Stanley Black & Decker develop technologies and processes related to automated manufacturing, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and more. The Additive Manufacturing Accelerator will be a three-year partnership with Techstars, and the mentorship-driven, entrepreneurial accelerator program set to identify 10 startups in the additive manufacturing space to participate in the program’s first year.
Bronin called this a step in the right direction for both Connecticut and the capital city.
“Every industry is undergoing a tremendous amount of change right now, whether its financial services, whether its advanced manufacturing, whether its health care, those places that are really going to grow and benefit are going to be those places that can make themselves the hub for innovation and that’s why today’s announcement is so significant,” Bronin said.
Stanley Black & Decker has called Connecticut home for 175 years. The company has over 100 global manufacturing facilities globally, 30 nationally, with three located in Connecticut.
“Strong urban cores, and in particular a vibrant capital city, are essential to Connecticut’s ability to thrive which is why we decided to locate this important new initiative in Hartford,” said Stanley Black & Decker’s President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Loree. “Our team has worked closely with Mayor Bronin’s office, and we are excited to be a part of building a vibrant, strong capital city.
With the budget now passed, the hard work can begin to solve some of the state’s structural fiscal challenges and put the state on a more sound economical path.
We cannot lose the sense of urgency and must recognize that the state is at a critical juncture. As a company founded in New Britain, Connecticut, almost 175 years ago, we have expressed our commitment from a social responsibility perspective to being part of the solution.”
Mayor Bronin told FOX61 there are no incentives are tax breaks for the company as part of the new deal.The new facility will be located in a 23,000 space inside One Constitution Plaza. That space is currently vacant, according to a company’s spokesperson.
OPEI Annual Meeting Speakers Announced
OPEI’s premier annual event will be held at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, in Bonita Springs, Fla., June 18-20. The meeting will feature two keynotes: Vivek Wadhwa, who was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the world’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers” and by Time magazine as one of the 40 most influential minds in tech, and Adam Steltzner, a NASA rocket scientist who led the team that invented the “sky crane” landing system that so spectacularly landed the Mars rover, Curiosity. Other sessions will focus on upcoming challenges posed by a new regulatory scheme in California.
The Right Kind of Crazy
Described as Einstein brilliance meets Johnny Cash cool, award-winning NASA rocket scientist Adam Steltzner will help you harness the power of curiosity to spark digital innovation and collaborative technology leadership across your entire organization. Prepare yourself for a true story of teamwork, leadership and high stakes innovation. With a rich and varied background, Adam Steltzner had many of the needed skills to lead the landing team for the Curiosity rover. Still, his team struggled for almost a decade with design challenges and setbacks. How did he keep the team focused and on task? What makes a team gel and enables truly innovative thinking? How do team dynamics drive that process forward or inhibit it? And how can organizational culture create an environment for sustained performance?
The challenges he and the team faced and the lessons learned from those struggles can help you understand how to better lead high-performing teams, manage innovation and drive toward excellence. Adam brings to life unique strategies and perspectives on breaking through the seemingly impossible.
Adam led and inspired the breakthrough team that invented the ingenious sky crane landing system that so spectacularly landed the Mars rover, curiosity, on the Martian surface 300 million miles from Earth in 2012. Next, Adam will lead NASA’s Mars 2020 Project that will gather core samples of Mars for scientific discovery. His book, “The Right Kind of Crazy,” is acclaimed by the Washington Post as the best leadership book of the year, and an Editor’s Choice by CEO READ.
Called “Silicon Valley’s most provocative voice” for his ideas on technology trends, globalization, U.S. competitiveness, and the future, Vivek Wadhwa is at the forefront of innovation. From tech entrepreneur and business owner to accomplished academic and widely published author, he offers a look into how exponentially advancing technologies including robotics, AI, computing, 3D printing, and nanomaterials will change our world, disrupt entire industries, and create new ones. Wadhwa also reveals the keys to the U.S. remaining competitive and solving grand challenges, in the face of the rapid transformation shaping business in India, China, and Latin America.
An advisor to governments and successful entrepreneurs alike, Wadhwa previously founded two influential software companies, prompting Forbes to name him a “Leader of Tomorrow” and Fortune to declare his start-up, Relativity one of the “25 coolest companies in the world.” He was named by Foreign Policy Magazine as a “Top 100 Global Thinker” and in 2013, TIME magazine listed him as one of the “40 Most Influential Minds in Tech.”
He is the author of two books: The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent, which was named by The Economist as Book of the Year of 2012 and Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology. He is a regular columnist for publications including The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Forbes.
A Stanford University Research Fellow and Director of Research at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering; formerly, he led research at Singularity University, which educates leaders about the exponentially growing technologies that are going to change our world.
Registration details are forthcoming. For immediate questions, please contact Director of Meetings Marla Popkin at email@example.com
Generac’s Record Shipments Drive Significant Organic Growth; Outlook Raised for Full-year 2017
WAUKESHA, Wis. — Generac Holdings Inc. (NYSE:GNRC) \, a leading global designer and manufacturer of power generation equipment and other engine powered products, reported financial results for its third quarter ended September 30, 2017.
Third Quarter 2017 Highlights
Net sales increased 22.5% to a record $457.3 million during the third quarter of 2017 as compared to $373.1 million in the prior-year third quarter, including $10.1 million of contribution from the Motortech acquisition.
Net income attributable to the Company during the third quarter of 2017 was $39.7 million, or $0.64 per share, as compared to $26.2 million, or $0.40 per share, for the same period of 2016.
Adjusted net income attributable to the Company, as defined in the accompanying reconciliation schedules, was $57.8 million, or $0.93 per share, as compared to $53.2 million, or $0.82 per share, in the third quarter of 2016.
Adjusted EBITDA attributable to the Company, as defined in the accompanying reconciliation schedules, was $87.6 million as compared to $72.1 million in the third quarter last year.
Cash flow from operations was $67.0 million as compared to $48.3 million in the prior year quarter. Free cash flow, as defined in the accompanying reconciliation schedules, was $60.4 million as compared to $41.4 million in the third quarter of 2016.
As a result of the improved demand outlook for residential products, the Company is increasing its full-year 2017 guidance for sales growth to 14 to 15% and Adjusted EBITDA margins to approximately 19.0%.
“Overall third quarter results were very strong with record quarterly sales resulting in robust organic sales growth of approximately 20% and solid operating and free cash flow compared to the prior year,” said Aaron Jagdfeld, President and Chief Executive Officer. “The active hurricane season drove significant shipments of portable generators during the quarter as our team worked diligently with our channel partners to quickly get these products to customers in the storm affected areas. In-home consultations and end-user activations of home standby generators were also strong, with broad-based growth across all regions. Looking forward, we have ramped up production for home standby generators to meet the current and anticipated increased demand for these products, and we’re also early in the process of replenishing our portable inventories back to more normalized levels. Shipments of commercial and industrial products also experienced solid organic growth during the third quarter, with the continued strong recovery in domestic mobile products and healthy end-market demand in our International segment driving the year-over-year increase.”
Additional Third Quarter 2017 Consolidated Highlights
Residential product sales increased 30.6% to $251.9 million as compared to $192.9 million in the prior year. Commercial & Industrial (C&I) product sales improved 16.6% to $174.5 million as compared to $149.7 million in the prior year.
Gross profit margin was 34.4% compared to 36.9% in the prior-year third quarter. The decline in gross margin as compared to the prior year was primarily due to unfavorable sales mix attributable to significantly higher sales of portable generators and mobile products relative to prior year, which carry lower gross margins relative to the consolidated corporate average.
Operating expenses increased $3.2 million, or 3.9%, as compared to the third quarter of 2016. The increase was primarily driven by the addition of recurring operating expenses associated with the Motortech acquisition and additional incentive compensation accrued during the current-year quarter.
Cash flow from operations was $67.0 million as compared to $48.3 million in the prior year, and free cash flow was $60.4 million as compared to $41.4 million in the same period last year. The increases in cash flow were primarily driven by higher operating earnings in the current-year quarter.
Business Segment Results
Domestic segment sales increased 21.8% to $364.3 million as compared to $299.1 million in the prior-year quarter. The current-year third quarter experienced substantial growth in shipments of portable generators driven by increased outage activity, along with the continuation of very strong growth for mobile products. Also contributing to the year-over-year sales growth were increases in home standby generators and specialty outdoor power equipment.
Adjusted EBITDA for the segment was $83.1 million, or 22.8% of net sales, as compared to $69.3 million in the prior year, or 23.2% of net sales. Adjusted EBITDA margin in the current year was impacted by unfavorable sales mix due to significantly higher sales of portable generators and mobile products relative to prior year. These impacts were largely offset by improved overall leverage of fixed operating expenses on the strong organic increase in sales.
International segment sales increased 25.5% to $92.9 million as compared to $74.0 million in the prior-year quarter. The increase was primarily due to the contribution from the recent acquisition of Motortech, which closed on January 1, 2017. The growth was also due to increased organic shipments of both C&I and residential products within the European and Latin America regions, along with the favorable impact of the stronger Euro as compared to the prior year.
Adjusted EBITDA for the segment, before deducting for non-controlling interests, was $5.6 million, or 6.1% of net sales, as compared to $3.5 million, or 4.8% of net sales, in the prior year. The improvement in adjusted EBITDA margin as compared to the prior year was primarily due to improved leverage of fixed manufacturing and operating expenses on the organic increase in sales. These impacts were partially offset by unfavorable foreign currency effects.
2017 Outlook Update
The Company is increasing its prior guidance for revenue growth and adjusted EBITDA margins for full-year 2017, which is primarily due to an improved outlook for residential products as a result of the higher power outage activity experienced during the third quarter of 2017. Full year net sales are now expected to increase between 14 to 15% over the prior year, which is an increase from the 6 to 8% growth previously expected. Total core organic sales growth is now anticipated to increase 9 to 10%, which is an improvement from the previous assumption of 2 to 3%.
Net income margins, before deducting for non-controlling interests, are now expected to be approximately 8.0%, an improvement from 7.0 to 7.5% previously expected. Adjusted EBITDA margins, also before deducting for non-controlling interests, are now expected to be approximately 19.0% for the full year 2017, an improvement from the prior guidance of approximately 18.5%.
CPD Named Distributor of the Year by MTD Products
Central Power Distributors, Inc. (CPD) was presented MTD’s 2017 Distributor of the Year award during the manufacturer’s annual central distributor meeting held Nov. 13-15 in Charleston, S.C.
Each year, the award is given to the MTD central distributor achieving the best overall score based on several categories, including sales growth, street sales, EDGE sales, serviceable installed base (SIB), dealer survey, and fill rates.
Accepting the award on behalf of CPD were President John Schaller and John D. Hedges, director of sales and marketing.
“CPD was honored to win the 2017 MTD Distributor of the Year,” said Hedges. “There is great pride in winning this award when measured against some of the best distributors in our industry. Thanks to our dealers as well for making this award a reality.”
MTD is a manufacturer of many products sold by mass merchants and dealers worldwide. Headquartered in Anoka, Minn., CPD is one of MTD’s 10 nationwide central distributors selling the MTD family of parts (excluding Cub Cadet) and Troy-Bilt. For more information about CPD, visit www.cpdonline.com.
22nd Annual EETC Annual Conference April 11-14, 2018
The 22nd Annual EETC Conference will be held at the Hotel at Auburn University & Dixon Conference Center
in Auburn, Alabama. Following are 10 reasons to attend the annual conference.
- Each EETC Conference is FOCUSED on educators and training in the latest technology. The EETC’s goal of putting more trained technicians in the field depends on the success of your program.
- Efficient agenda – a 2 ½ day conference with multiple offerings and no “dead time”.
- Industry sponsorship keeps registration fee low.
- Experts from the Outdoor Power Equipment industry deliver hands-on and interactive training on today’s products and relevant technical topics.
- Several vendors display and present information on new training products and services.
- Educators can share training successes and lessons-learned with each other and enhance their training program.
- Opportunity to network with Original Equipment Manufacturer attendees.
- Opportunity to discuss wants and needs with EETC board members.
- Training session C.E.U.’s
- Take advantage of conference “specials” from EETC education material providers.
- Sit in on EETC board meeting and Certification Test Committee meeting.
To learn more, click here.
Thoughts for the Day
Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.
“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”
Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.
If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.
As sure as the spring will follow the winter, prosperity and economic growth will follow recession.
In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter’s evening, when dusk almost hides the body, and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day.
That love weighs more than gold!
-Josephine Dodge Daskam Baco
“I’m a minimalist. I don’t really need much to enjoy a good holiday – just my family and the bare essentials.”
Billiou’s Legacy Reward Recipient
The City of Porterville recognized Hoagie’s Heroes Sandwiches and Billiou’s as Legacy Business Award recipients during the First Friday Coffee event recently.
Lawrence and Jean Billiou opened their store doors on April 1, 1946 when the population in Porterville was less than 10,000. Billiou’s began as a small shop offering items such as bikes, sewing machines and more. In the beginning, Billiou’s offered used items Lawrence and Jean Billiou had repaired. John Billiou, son of Lawrence and Jean Billiou, recalled how his dad would go to a junk yard and would find old bicycles, fix and paint them, and then sell them.
“John recounted with a smile that ‘the first big new item they sold was the Red Flyer Wagon,’” Byers said.
Billiou’s first location was on D Street and Putnam Avenue. They later moved, to Jaye and Putnam, then to 275 N. D. St. and finally, in 1989, they moved to their present location on South Main Street, which is 44,000 square feet.
John Billiou took over the family business in 1989 and noted that Billiou’s closed its retail store and became more of a distribution facility. Billiou’s distributes a complete range of products, filling the commercial needs of the outdoor power equipment market.
“They have the most popular lines of engines, mowers, riders, tillers, chainsaws, trimmers, blowers and other related equipment designed to meet lawn and garden needs,” Byers said. The business has received many accolades over the years for its contribution to the local economy and its role with the community. In 1996, Billiou’s was awarded the Porterville Area Business Association Business of the Year, and in 2001 was recognized by the California State Senate for Excellence in Business.
“Also, they have been recognized by Porterville schools for creating opportunities for workplace learning for local students,” Byers added.
In September, Billiou’s merged with Cantrell Turf Equipment (CTE) to form CTE+, and John Billiou announced his retirement.
John Billiou described his final days as head of operations as mutually beneficial for both Billiou’s and CTE. One of Billiou’s stipulations of the merger was that current employees and staff would remain in place under the new ownership.
“Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we’ve done,” John Billiou said. “This is not a one-man job — it’s a team effort involving a lot of hard work and we cannot betray that loyalty.”
John Billiou also attributes the company’s longevity to its workers.
“If you have the right people, you make the sale,” John Billiou said. “It’s really the right people.”
California Emissions And Ethanol Misfuelling Challenges
From Turf Online Magazine
Change (and challenge) is always in the air in the power equipment universe, especially when it comes to the regulatory community.
California, which is seriously considering draconian emissions laws, is serving up one of the most vexing regulatory challenges to power equipment manufacturers and equipment users these days, offers Kris Kiser, OPEI president. The state is mulling evaporative standards that are aimed at small off-road engines, including offering incentives for landscapers and homeowners to abandon their gasoline-fueled mowers, trimmers, blowers, etc. in favor of electric/battery-powered units.
“Some companies may choose to leave the marketplace, especially people offering niche products that don’t have a significant market share there. They are going to look very closely whether it’s cost effective to do business there or bring a battery product into the marketplace,” says Kiser.
Then, of course, there is the seemingly ever-present challenge to educate the users of equipment powered by small engines to avoid fuels containing more than 10 percent ethanol. Manufacturers design and warranty their engines to perform satisfactorily at no more than 10 percent ethanol. Because of misguided federal legislation a decade ago, “now we have too many gallons of ethanol chasing too few gallons of gasoline,” explains Kiser. Consequently, many stations are selling fuel with 15 percent ethanol (85 percent in many locations) and unaware power equipment users are misfueling and damaging their equipment as a result.
The OPEI has expended tremendous effort on its “Look Before You Pump” outreach program to educate users of power equipment with small engines — mowers, motorcycles, marine engines, UTVs, etc. — about the danger ethanol can do to their equipment. The power equipment market itself, like the regulatory arena, is constantly changing. OPEI must acknowledge and help guide this change to the benefit of equipment users. For this reason, it’s relatively new Battery and Electric Products Committee is working on standards for this growing product category, says Kiser.
“We don’t favor one power source over another; we represent all of them. But there’s a significant push toward electricity and batteries,” acknowledges Kiser. He says OPEI is in the process of determining “how this shakes out in both the commercial and consumer markets,” as well as how it will be viewed by regulators.
Even more recently OPEI instituted a Robotic Electric Lawnmower Committee to oversee activities associated with the development of the ANSI/OPEI standard. It is one of more than 20 active committees within the organization, a very big challenge considering that OPEI is just over 100 member companies.
Attorneys for Muslim Workers File Federal Lawsuit Against Ariens
Attorneys with the Council on American-Islamic Relations have filed a federal lawsuit against Brillion-based Ariens Company regarding the business’ break policy, which drew push back from Somali Muslim workers.
The lawsuit filed in the United States District Court in Green Bay lists 19 plaintiffs, and claims violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Wisconsin Fair Employment Act. The document states that the plaintiffs are seeking “compensatory and punitive damages” along with back pay and coverage of attorney fees.
The lawsuit claims Ariens forced the employees to choose between “violating their core religious beliefs by not performing their obligatory prayers to maintain their employment.”
Click here to read the lawsuit.
Prior to a change in break policy in 2016, Muslims employees were allowed to leave the production line twice a shift to pray two of the five prayers their faith requires of them daily. They prayed five minutes at a time, designating their specific duties to colleagues.
The company changed that policy, and asked employees to pray during scheduled breaks in designated prayer rooms. Ariens said the decision was made to avoid unscheduled breaks in production.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs say they were assured by management prior to accepting a job at Ariens that they would be allowed to perform their prayers during shifts “should the need arise.”
The company fired seven employees for not complying with the policy, and 14 other workers resigned.
Other Muslim workers stayed on and abided by the new break policy.
Sheffield Financial and Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. Announce a New Multi-year Retail Financing Contract
CLEMMONS, N.C. — Sheffield Financial, a division of Branch Banking and Trust Company, and Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC), recently agreed to a multi-year financing services agreement, effective immediately.
The agreement allows Sheffield to provide consumer financing services to customers of KMC’s independent dealer network. The contract covers installment financing for Kawasaki brand motorcycles, side-by-sides, ATVs and personal watercraft.
“Sheffield has been a great partner for Kawasaki,” said Bill Jenkins, Kawasaki senior vice president, Sales & Operations. “We are proud to extend our relationship and offer Kawasaki dealers the tools for financing all Kawasaki customers. We are confident the combination of industry-leading Kawasaki models with Sheffield’s services will result in the best retail experience for our customers.”
“We are excited about our continued financing relationship with Kawasaki and its independent dealers and customers,” said Jack Snow, Sheffield Financial CEO. Sheffield, founded in 1992 and acquired by BB&T in 1997, has a strong commitment to power sports manufacturers, dealers and customers.
“Our tagline is ‘Personal Service – It’s That Simple’ and is the foundation upon which our company is built. Sheffield specializes in financing motorcycles, off-road vehicles and personal watercraft equipment, and Kawasaki is a premier manufacturer in this industry,” said Jeff McKay, Sheffield Financial president.
About Sheffield Financial
Clemmons, N.C.-based Sheffield Financial is a division of Branch Banking and Trust Company, which is a subsidiary of BB&T Corporation (NYSE: BBT). Sheffield, which has financed more than $20 billion in loans since its founding in 1992, currently services more than 15,000 outdoor power equipment, power sports and trailer dealers nationwide. The company provides retail financing options in all 50 states for outdoor power equipment, trailers and power sports equipment, such as snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, side-by-side vehicles, motorcycles and personal watercraft. For more information about Sheffield Financial, visit SheffieldFinancial.com.
BB&T is one of the largest financial services holding companies in the U.S. with $220.3 billion in assets and market capitalization of $37.0 billion as of Sept. 30, 2017. Building on a long tradition of excellence in community banking, BB&T offers a wide range of financial services including retail and commercial banking, investments, insurance, wealth management, asset management, mortgage, corporate banking, capital markets and specialized lending. Based in Winston-Salem, N.C., BB&T operates over 2,100 financial centers in 15 states and Washington, D.C. A Fortune 500 company, BB&T is consistently recognized for outstanding client service by Greenwich Associates for small business and middle market banking. More information about BB&T and its full line of products and services is available at BBT.com.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. (KHI) started full-scale production of motorcycles over a half century ago. The first Kawasaki motorcycle engine was designed based on technical know-how garnered from the development and production of aircraft engines, and Kawasaki’s entry into the motorcycle industry was driven by the company’s constant effort to develop new technologies. Numerous new Kawasaki models introduced over the years have helped shape the market, and in the process, have created enduring legends based on their unique engineering, power, design and riding pleasure. In the future, Kawasaki’s commitment to maintaining and furthering these strengths will surely give birth to new legends.
Ariens Partners with Green Bay Packers to Sponsor Ariens Hill at Titletown
Ariens has entered into a partnership with the Green Bay Packers to sponsor the new hill in Titletown, adjacent to Lambeau Field. Ariens Hill will be a tubing hill in the colder months and, in the warmer months, the hill’s sloped green space will provide a unique area for visitors and community members to relax and enjoy park activities and programs.
The partnership provides a unique opportunity for visibility not only in the local community, but also during national broadcasts of Packers games, as the Ariens brand logo will be featured prominently on the both side and top of the hill.
An opening date for tubing on Ariens Hill will be determined in the coming weeks. An official ribbon cutting will take place as soon as weather conditions are favorable for making snow on the hill.
“Our partnership with the Green Bay Packers and our sponsorship of Ariens Hill is a great fit for our brand and our company,” said Ariens Company Chairman & CEO Dan Ariens. “We’re looking forward to Ariens Hill becoming a destination for families and the community to come together, enjoy the outdoors and have fun.”
Ariens Hill is one of the main attractions at Titletown. Towering over the unique park space at 46 feet, the hill features three tubing lanes that stretch 300 feet from start to finish. An automated system returns tubes to the top of the hill, while riders can either climb the steps back to the top, or ride the elevators to take their next ride. Three snow-making machines and state-of-the-art grooming equipment will ensure optimal tubing conditions throughout winter.
Ariens Hill also is home to two event spaces – 46 Below and Rockwood Terrace. 46 Below is a bistro that can accommodate 80 guests. Rockwood Terrace is located on the second level of Ariens Hill. This space can accommodate 200 guests and will be used for large events and weddings.
“We’re excited to partner with Ariens Company for the hill in Titletown,” said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. “Ariens is well-known in Wisconsin and around the world for its snow blowers and lawn mowers. People will benefit from use of Ariens Hill year round.”
During normal operating hours, visitors may purchase a tubing ticket to use Ariens Hill. More information on our partnership and on Ariens Hill, including full tubing rules, hours and admission prices are available at Titletown.com.
Make Plans Now the OPEESA Annual Meeting – February 25-28, 2018
The OPEESA Annual Meeting will be held at the Westin Mission Hills Resort near Palm Springs, CA, February 25-28, 2018. We have a great roster of speakers, plenty of networking opportunities and social events. Following are the speakers and topics:
- Industry Update – Jean Hlay, President and COO, MTD Products
- The Current Presidency and it How Impacts You – Jade West, SVP – Government Relations, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors
- What in the World is Going on in the World – Herb Meyer, Founder & President, Storm King Press
- The True Meaning of Value Added Selling – Paul Reilly, Founder and President, Reilly Sales Training
Trends and Issues That Will Impact Your Cash Flow-Millennials, Trump and Amazon.com – Gene Marks, Columnist and Small Business Expert
- Economic Update – Alan Beaulieu, Economist, ITR Economics
- The New Tax Laws and How They Could Impact Your Business– Roman Basi, Economist, MBA, CPA, President of the Center for Financial, Legal, and TaxPlanning
For OPEESA members, the forms were already mailed and available in the Annual Meeting section of the website. For others, if you would like to learn more, click here.
STIHL American: Exemplary People–Extraordinary Times – Written by Stan Crader
Stan Crader, Crader Distributing, is publishing a new book where he illustrates the story of STIHL’s reintroduction into the American market. Stan has previously published three books including The Bridge, Paperboy, and The Longest Year.
This is the description from Amazon.com: Legacies are not easily built. They take dedicated individuals who are willing to risk everything, work hard, and be examples of excellence. The eclectic group of pioneers who laid the foundation for Stihl’s success in America could not have been more different from each other. But they shared the common drive and character that has proven the test of time. Stihl America features the amazing stories of these pioneers. All proceeds for the first year will go toward Fred Whyte’s endowment at Old Dominion University.
If you are interested in learning more about the book, click here.