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ARI Network Services Enters into Definitive Agreement to be Acquired by True Wind Capital

Milwaukee, Wis., June 21, 2017 – ARI Network Services, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARIS), an award-winning provider of SaaS, software tools and marketing services that help dealers, distributors and manufacturers Sell More Stuff!™, has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of True Wind Capital Management, LLC, a San Francisco-based private equity firm focused on investing in leading technology companies.

Under the terms of the agreement, ARI shareholders will receive $7.10 in cash for each share of ARI common stock they own. The purchase price represents a premium of approximately 33% to ARI’s average closing price for the period of 60 trading days ending June 20, 2017. The all-cash transaction represents an enterprise value of approximately $140 million and has been unanimously approved by ARI’s Board of Directors.

“We are very excited to partner with the True Wind team. This transaction is the result of an extensive process, and we believe it represents a great outcome for our shareholders,” said Roy W. Olivier, ARI president and CEO. “The investment by True Wind positions ARI to accelerate our pace of innovation and better positions ARI to capitalize on future growth opportunities.”

“ARI is a market leader with an experienced management team. The Company’s mission-critical software, data and digital marketing solutions provide customers best-in-class technology to run their businesses,” said Adam Clammer, Founding Partner at True Wind Capital. “True Wind is excited to partner with ARI and its management team to continue to deliver innovative solutions and achieve growth potential.”

Closing of the deal is subject to customary closing conditions including the approval of ARI shareholders. The transaction is expected to close in the third calendar quarter of 2017.

Pacific Crest Securities and Houlihan Lokey are serving as financial advisors to ARI, and Godfrey & Kahn S.C. is serving as legal advisor to ARI. True Wind’s legal advisor is Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Participants in the Solicitation
The directors and executive officers of ARI may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the shareholders of ARI in connection with the proposed acquisition. Information regarding the interests of these directors and executive officers in the transaction described herein will be included in the proxy statement described above. Additional information regarding ARI’s directors and executive officers is also included in ARI’s definitive proxy statement for its 2017 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, which was filed with the SEC on November 28, 2016. These documents are available free of charge as described in the preceding paragraph.

About ARI
ARI Network Services, Inc. (ARI) (NASDAQ: ARIS) offers an award-winning suite of SaaS, software tools, and marketing services to help dealers, equipment manufacturers and distributors in selected vertical markets Sell More Stuff!™ – online and in-store. Our innovative products are powered by a proprietary data repository of enriched original equipment and aftermarket electronic content spanning more than 17 million active part and accessory SKUs and 750,000 equipment models. Business is complicated, but we believe our customers’ technology tools don’t have to be. We remove the complexity of selling and servicing new and used vehicle inventory, parts, garments and accessories (PG&A) for customers in the automotive tire and wheel aftermarket, powersports, outdoor power equipment, marine, home medical equipment, recreational vehicles and appliance industries. More than 23,500 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 3,360 brands worldwide leverage our web and eCatalog platforms to Sell More Stuff!™ For more information on ARI, visit investor.arinet.com.

About True Wind Capital Management, LLC
True Wind Capital is a San Francisco-based private equity firm managing $560 million. True Wind is focused on investing in leading technology companies. True Wind is a value-added partner, providing support and expertise that is rooted in 50+ years of collective investing experience. Visit truewindcapital.com for more information.


Excel Industries to Lay Off 270 Employees in Hesston, KS

HESSTON, Kan. — Excel Industries in Hesston says it is reorganizing its operations and will lay off about 270 employees, effective immediately.

Excel announced the layoffs last week in a letter sent to employees.

The plant was the scene of a shooting that left four dead and 14 wounded in 2016.
Company officials said in a news release that demand for the turf care products it makes grew rapidly in the last three years but returned to more normal levels this year. They say Excel continues to grow but the overall market for turf care products is flat or down, in part because of weather and economic conditions in some areas.

Excel is Hesston’s second-largest employer.


Worldlawn Power Equipment Investment Powers Town

For Hardy Shao, the president of Worldlawn Power Equipment Inc, it has been quite a journey the last six years as he and his employees have rescued a commercial lawn equipment manufacturer and saved jobs in Beatrice, Nebraska.
“This is a beautiful and very good community. I have been welcomed by the people here,” Shao said on Friday, marking the formal opening of the company’s new facility in this town of about 12,000 located 40 miles south of Lincoln, the state capital.

“We really have a dedicated team of employees here who genuinely want this company to succeed. They work hard and focus on what they do. When I come into the office, I really enjoy being here every day,’ he continued.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, Beatrice Mayor Stan Wirth and others attended a ribbon-cutting in the 274,000-square-foot facility that is triple the size of the previous building.

“We have a lot of room to grow and the next step is to do powder coating and welding to expand which means we will be able to hire more people,” Shao said.
Worldlawn has more than 30 employees.

In 2011, Worldlawn, which is a unit of Jiangsu World Plant-Protecting Machinery Co Ltd in Danyang city in Jiangsu province, acquired the former Encore lawn mower plant in Beatrice.

Worldlawn manufactures outdoor power equipment including professional commercial lawnmowers (riding, stand-on and walk-behind lawnmowers), residential lawnmowers (riding mowers), and snow throwers.

“This was a company that was on the ropes and they needed assistance. When they purchased the former Encore manufacturing (site), the community really embraced the idea, and it is a tribute to Hardy Shao and his staff that they integrated themselves into the community and have become good community partners,” said Mayor Wirth.

Wirth said the investment is a reason why he supports expanded foreign trade and investment. “We need to continue to reach out to other countries for their investment. Foreign investment is a good thing – it’s not a bad thing,” he said.
The governor also used the occasion to underline the important role that foreign investment plays.

“Worldlawn’s expansion with this new facility in Beatrice is a great example of how international engagement helps bring investment and jobs to our state and shows the world that Nebraska is open for business,” Ricketts said.
About two weeks ago, the governor helped to load a shipping container bound for Shanghai. Ricketts was at a refrigerated loading dock helping to send boxes of steaks that were part of the first shipment of US beef headed to China under the terms of a new trade agreement.

“If we can capture the same share of the (beef) market in China as we have in some other countries, it could mean $200 million in annual sales for the state of Nebraska. Nebraska is the largest beef-exporting state in the country, with about $1.1 billion annually. The Chinese are going to find we have the best beef in the world,” Ricketts said.

Ricketts, who was sworn in as Nebraska’s 40th governor in 2015, would like to see the Trump administration tread carefully when it comes to foreign trade.
“We want to make sure that the relationships we have with other countries include a level playing field. But we also want to make sure we don’t disrupt the relationships we already have with China, which is our second-largest export market outside of North America and the fastest growing,” he said.
Nebraska is an agricultural powerhouse in the US. Besides cattle, the state is known for its corn crop and a thriving agricultural products and services sector. Ricketts believes the state has other opportunities to expand trade with China.
“The second biggest industry we have in our state is manufacturing, and Worldlawn shows how well we do at manufacturing in our state,” Ricketts said.


Husqvarna to Add Solar Power at Nashville Plant

Husqvarna Group, the global power equipment manufacturer with three facilities around Nashville, Arkansas, has announced plans to build a solar power installation at its injection molding plant in Howard County.

Today’s Power Inc., the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives subsidiary that specializes in building solar generation plants, is expected to install the 1.3-megawatt array, although Husqvarna’s news release on the subject did not include that detail.

Husqvarna described the array as the first solar energy project of its kind in the outdoor power tool industry, and the company expects the facility to reduce coal-based carbon dioxide emissions by about 2,100 tons in the first year of operation, and 52,000 tons over 25 years. Construction will begin in the third quarter of 2017 and the power plant is expected to be in operation by the end of the year.

“Earlier this year, Husqvarna Group became the world’s first forest and garden company to have our greenhouse gas emission reduction targets approved by an independent initiative,” said Jim Moore the vice president and general manager of sourcing, operations and supply chain for the company’s consumer brands division. “Now we will become the first company in our industry to build a solar power generating facility. It is important to demonstrate that we are serious and committed to contributing to a low-carbon future.”

Today’s Power, which dedicated a 1-megawatt community array for Ouachita Electric Cooperative this week in Holly Springs (Calhoun County), has been working to add projects beyond its initial client roster of rural electric cooperatives. The Husqvarna project is expected to be the first of several such collaborations.
Husqvarna, which builds lawnmowers, chainsaws, trimmers, blowers and many other outdoor tools, has 13,000 employees in 40 countries and is based in Stockholm. The company, which has a U.S. operations center in Charlotte, North Carolina, has committed to reducing its carbon emissions by a third before 2035.


Stanley Black & Decker Reaffirms Guidance And Provides Strategic Update At 2017 Investor Day

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — Stanley Black & Decker (NYSE: SWK) reaffirmed its 2017 guidance and provided a strategic update, including an update on M&A and the company’s recent acquisitions of the Craftsman brand and the Lenox and Irwin businesses.

“Our vision is to be a great industrial company – one that is both human-centered and committed to delivering top-quartile growth and profitability,” said Jim Loree, Stanley Black & Decker’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We operate in strong, innovation-driven businesses in diverse, global markets, with an organization powered by a robust and pervasive operating system, SFS 2.0, and a strong value creation framework. We have an execution culture that is bold and agile yet thoughtful and disciplined that is centered around a clear purpose.”

“We have a strong vision for where to take this company, with a goal of profitably doubling the size of the company to $22 billion in revenue by 2022. Three key themes will drive Stanley Black & Decker towards that goal, including an aspiration to be known as one of the world’s most innovative companies powered by a digital transformation, a continued focus on delivering top-quartile performance, and an elevated commitment to corporate social responsibility,” added Loree.

As it relates to M&A, Loree commented, “Our focus now is effectively integrating and leveraging our investments in the Craftsman, Lenox and Irwin tools brands to deliver the growth and value we expect and have committed to – we’re on track to do just that. Any sizable new acquisitions we might pursue will have to wait for a few quarters and would likely be in the form of industrial bolt-ons or further expansion of the commercial electronic security business. That doesn’t rule out the occasional small tool bolt-on that might come up in the next few quarters. It also doesn’t preclude larger tool acquisitions in the coming years once the recent additions are firmly in place and performing well.”

“A really exciting element of our overall M&A strategy is the notion of utilizing M&A to complement our breakthrough innovation projects and vice versa — M&A to accelerate organic growth. Acquisition targets must meet key criteria, including solid returns, sound strategic logic and fit within our value creation model,” added Loree.

2017 GUIDANCE REAFFIRMED

In addition, the Company reaffirmed its updated full year 2017 guidance as provided on April 21, 2017. The Company continues to expect its 2017 EPS outlook to be $7.95 – $8.15 on a GAAP basis and to be $7.08 – $7.28 on an adjusted basis. The Company also reiterated its free cash flow conversion estimate of approximately 100%. The Company also reaffirmed that its 2018 financial vision from its prior Investor Day is achievable.

“Stanley Black & Decker’s outlook for 2017 continues to remain positive, as we successfully navigate ongoing macroeconomic and geopolitical challenges,” said Don Allan, Stanley Black & Decker’s Executive Vice President and CFO. “Our SFS 2.0 operating system continues to enable us to deliver top-quartile results over the long term. Its five distinctive elements: breakthrough innovation, digital excellence, commercial excellence, core SFS and functional transformation, drive our differentiated performance in organic growth, margin expansion and asset efficiency. Importantly, it also provides the framework to differentiate us among industrials, all of whom are dealing with a world where the pace of change is relentlessly accelerating.”

Stanley Black & Decker, an S&P 500 company, is a diversified global provider of hand tools, power tools and related accessories, electronic security solutions, healthcare solutions, engineered fastening systems, and more. Learn more at www.stanleyblackanddecker.com


OPEI Issues Statement on Growth Energy Advertising Campaign

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing more than 100 small-engine, utility vehicle and outdoor power equipment manufacturers and suppliers, the following statement June 12 in response to the announcement of Growth Energy’s $1-million advertising campaign, promoting the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517), which encourages year-round sales of E15 or gasoline containing 15-percent ethanol:

While Growth Energy and other pro-ethanol lobbying organizations have spent millions of dollars to bring higher ethanol fuel blends to the marketplace, they continue to fail to acknowledge that higher ethanol fuels may damage or destroy many engines, especially non-road engines. The hundreds of millions of boats, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and outdoor power equipment — including mowers, snow throwers, generators, trimmers, UTVs, masonry and concrete saws, water pumps, power trowels, augers, tillers, power washers, chain saws, chippers, grinders etc. in use today — are not designed, built, or warranted to handle gasoline containing greater than 10-percent ethanol. Nor are millions of legacy automobiles. All engine manufacturers adhere to federally mandated and California standards, are emissions regulated, and are designed around a government-mandated certification fuel. What the pro-ethanol groups continuously fail to do is educate the tens of thousands of businesses, tradesmen, construction workers, landscapers, forestry workers, farmers and firemen, as well as everyday homeowners about the appropriate and legal use of newly introduced, mid-level ethanol blends.

Countless sources from the EPA to Consumer Reports have reported these engine products may suffer damage or fail from higher ethanol fuel blends.

“We are disappointed that once again the pro-ethanol groups fail to acknowledge that not all engines are designed to use E15, and frankly are prohibited from doing so by law. The recently announced Growth Energy advertising campaign includes no consumer education on where and when it’s appropriate to use E15, which is in a subset of the automobile fleet and nowhere else. Clearly, this campaign is a sales campaign seeking to sell fuel,” said Kris Kiser, CEO and president of OPEI. “Even the federal government has deemed it illegal to use anything greater than 10-percent ethanol fuel in outdoor power equipment. Their ‘choice act,’ is a false choice. We’re asking our consumers to choose the appropriate fuel for which their products are designed, built, and warranted. Our goal is to protect our customers and ensure our machines operate in a safe and reliable manner.”

In 2013, OPEI launched a consumer protection and education program, Look Before You Pump, which urges consumers to be aware of the ethanol content in fuel at gasoline filling stations and to choose the appropriate fuel for their equipment or vehicle. The program also reminds consumers that it is illegal to use fuels with greater than 10-percent ethanol in outdoor power equipment. Consumers should read their owner’s manual for fueling guidance and direction.

The National Association of Marine Manufacturers, the Equipment Dealers Association, the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance, the National Association of Landscape Professionals, the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, the Equipment & Engine Training Council, and the Outdoor Power Equipment Aftermarket Association are partners in OPEI’s Look Before You Pump program.


Noted Economist to Speak at GIE+EXPO 2017

One of the country’s most informed economists will deliver a keynote address at the Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO), the world’s largest trade show for the garden, lawn and outdoor power equipment industries, held Oct. 18-20, 2017, at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. The Dealer “Kick-Off” Keynote is free with show registration.Alan Beaulieu

Alan Beaulieu, a senior analyst at ITR Economics, has been delivering award-winning workshops and economic analysis seminars to thousands of business owners and executives around the world for the past 25 years to help them capitalize on emerging trends. He is co-author of Prosperity in the Age of Decline, a powerful look at how to make the most of U.S. and global economic trends during the next 20 years. He also co-authored Make Your Move, a practical and insightful guide on increasing profits through business cycle changes.

In his GIE+EXPO session titled “A Good Year Ahead,” Beaulieu will focus on the uncertainty and volatility that business leaders currently confront. Sifting through the often-conflicting maze of economic information, he will provide a timely snapshot of the current economy, where it is headed over the next three years, and what it means to businesses.

“The addition of Alan to our lineup will provide an outstanding opportunity for dealers to learn where the economy is headed, as well as how they can take advantage of the present economic environment,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), the managing partner of GIE+EXPO.

Beaulieu will deliver the Dealer “Kick-Off” Keynote on Wednesday, Oct. 18 (Dealer Day), 1:30-3 p.m. The session is sponsored by Gravely and Stihl. Following Beaulieu’s keynote, the trade show will open exclusively for dealers, distributors, retailers and media from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with a show floor reception beginning at 5 p.m.


Thoughts for the Day

“People don’t notice whether its winter or summer when they are happy.”
– Anton Chekov

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
– Warren Buffett

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.”
– Charles Bowden

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
– John Lubbock

“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.”
– St. Francis of Assisi

“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.”
– Russel Baker

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”
– Sam Keen


 Kawasaki Consolidates Engine Division

In an effort to have a closer relationship with the rest of the company’s groups, Kawasaki Engines Division has announced the relocation of its research and development division from Marysville, Missouri, to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The consolidation into the newly renovated building was recognized with a grand reopening celebration of the location.

“Grand Rapids is close to our OEM customers, so we’re able to have a quicker relationship with those customers, have better direct communication with them between OEM sales, application engineering and R&D, so we’re able to have a quicker response to our OEMs request for OEM sales and R&D working together in the same place,” said Dave Sugden, newly named director of research & development for the company.

Being able to work together with all the groups in the same building will allow Kawasaki to utilize all its resources in creating engines customers want. The 200,000-square-foot facility includes 66,500 square feet of renovated offices and an R&D lab.

“I talk a lot about outside in and inside out development,” said Kurt Forrest, director of OEM sales. “I think that’s where the best product development happens – our team, the OEM sales team – we’re that primary conduits if you will, or funnel, through which that information flows, so it’s our job to ensure that our OEM customers needs in the market are brought into this building.”

Forrest said being located in the same building will change team interactions from deliberate, via the phone, to serendipitous, perhaps at a vending machine, creating unique opportunities for conversation and innovation with other employees.

“You can’t overstate the benefit of those interactions,” he said. “We’re bumping and colliding all the time in this building now, and creativity happens that way. Great work gets done and great products get produced.”

Another benefit to location is its proximity to Detroit and Chicago, making it a good spot for recruiting.

“It’s allowing us to recruit good, experienced engineers with automotive skills and education,” Sugden said. “Also, electrical engineers with experience, and EFI calibration engineers which is very important to us going forward with our new EFI systems.”


EETC Holds Successful 21st Annual Conference

The Equipment & Engine Training Council (EETC) held a highly productive 21st annual conference at the Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel April 5-8 in Virginia Beach, Va. Stihl Inc. served as the conference host and platinum sponsor, and Stihl Inc. President Bjoern Fischer delivered the keynote address.

“The EETC conference is our key event of the year and is where the OPE industry is united together in providing training and support to educators that teach future technicians for the industry in their schools’ small-engine or power equipment programs,” said EETC Executive Director Erik Sides.

During the conference, the EETC made several important announcements, including an update on the association and its initiatives, its new board, as well as its annual scholarship and award winners.

2016-17 Year in Review

During the past year, the EETC increased its membership across the board with three new manufacturers for a total of 23, seven new high schools for a total of 109, and three new colleges for a total of 48. In addition, the EETC administered 1,936 tests in 2016, nearly equaling the 2015 total of 1,973.

2017-18 Board of Directors

The EETC’s 2017-18 Executive Board will consist of Brian O’Neil of B3C Fuel Solutions as president; Jay Larsen of Blount Inc. as vice president; John Easley of Louisiana State Penitentiary as secretary; Ed Cole as treasurer; and Ron Jensen of Echo Inc. as past president.

Rounding out the board as directors will be Brian Thomas, MTD; Allen Spence, Kawasaki Engines; Michael Brotzman, Kohler Company; Tom Billigen, Briggs & Stratton; Duane Kasprick, The Toro Company; Steve Olsen; Multiquip Inc.; Tim Jones, Marr Bros.; Daryl Glover, Gardner Dixie Sales; Albert Heron, Texas Outdoor Power; Harry Senn, Texas State Technical College; Nick Testa, State University of New York (SUNY) at Cobleskill; and Dave Worden, SkillsUSA.

Eddie Anderson, middle, technical training supervisor, Stihl Inc., accepts the Manufacturer of the Year Award on behalf of Stihl Inc. from EETC President Brian O’Neil, left, and EETC Past President Ron Jensen, right.

Each year, the EETC hands out several awards at its annual conference. This year’s annual award winners were as follows:

  • Manufacturer of the Year: Stihl Inc., Virginia Beach, Va.
  • Distributor of the Year: Tidewater Power Equipment Company, Virginia Beach, Va.
  • Service Manager of the Year: Scott Tindle, Midwest Equipment & Supply Co. Inc., Evansville, Ind.
  • College of the Year: State University of New York (SUNY) at Cobleskill, Cobleskill, N.Y. (Instructor Nick Testa)
  • High School of the Year: Bucks County Technical High School, Fairless Hills, Pa. (Instructor Jeff Cesari)
  • Spirit Award: EETC Professor Emeritus Harry Senn, Texas State Technical College, Waco, Texas
  • President’s Award: Jay Larsen, Blount Inc., Portland, Ore.
  • Director’s Award: Ron Jensen, Echo Inc., Lake Zurich, Ill.

Scholarship Winners

A total of eight Paul H. Scholten Memorial scholarships were announced at the EETC annual conference. Each of the following individuals received a $1,000 scholarship:

  • Patrick Rolain, freshman, Madison Area Technical College, Madison, Wis., received his scholarship from Nancy Cueroni on behalf of the Outdoor Power Equipment & Engine Service Association (OPEESA).
  • Maxwell Hodges, senior, Bucks County Technical High School, Fairless, Pa., was presented his scholarship by Mike Hudson representing Echo Inc.
  • Katie Leet, freshman, Madison Area Technical College, Madison, Wis., received her scholarship from Steve Meyer on behalf of Almon Inc.
  • Dominic Opsteen, freshman, and Donaven Phillips, sophomore, both from Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, Wis., each received a scholarship from Tom Billigen on behalf of Briggs & Stratton Corporation.
  • Devin Jensen, freshman, Alexandria Technical College, Alexandria, Minn., received his scholarship from Allen Pence representing Kawasaki Engines.
  • Austin Salsbury, senior, Nordonia High School, Macedonia, Ohio, and Stephanie Vopelak, sophomore, SUNY at Cobleskill, Cobleskill, N.Y., received scholarships from Ron Jensen on behalf of the EETC.

Future Annual Conferences

The EETC announced details on its next two annual conferences. The 22nd annual conference will be hosted by Briggs & Stratton Corporation at The Hotel at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., April 11-14, 2018. The 23rd annual conference will be hosted by Oregon | Blount Inc. in Portland, Ore., April 3-6, 2019.


EDA Names New President and CEO

The Equipment Dealers Association (EDA) board of directors recently announced the appointment of Kim Rominger as its new president/CEO, effective July 5, 2017. He will replace Rick Lawhun, who decided to pursue his lifelong goal of retiring on his 60th birthday.

Rominger possesses 34 years of experience in equipment dealer association management, with the past 17 years serving in the capacity of CEO of regional equipment dealer associations. He has extensive experience with dealer-manufacturer relations, having served on the EDA Industry Relations Task Force since 2012. He currently serves as the executive vice president/CEO of the United Equipment Dealers Association (UEDA), a position that he will continue to hold.

Rominger earned a B.S. degree in marketing from Indiana State University and an M.B.A. from Indiana Wesleyan University. He currently resides in Avon, Ind., with his wife, Monica


Briggs & Stratton Supports United States Veterans At Camp Hope

Briggs & Stratton Corporation is helping U.S. veterans defend themselves against power outages. In conjunction with generator dealer Power Now LLC, Briggs & Stratton donated a 60kW1 standby generator and two transfer switches to Camp Hope, a private retreat near Houston, Texas, that helps military veterans recover from combat trauma.

“The donation will help thousands of camp residents continue their recovery program uninterrupted, regardless of the weather outside that could cause a power interruption to the property,” said John Taggart, owner of Power Now LLC. “Camp Hope is founded and run on donations, so when they asked Power Now and Briggs & Stratton for help, I knew the donation would be put to good use.”

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