Outdoor Power Equipment and Engine Service Association

Briggs & Stratton’s Allmand Bros. Announces Facility Expansion For Job Site

Allmand Bros. Inc., a subsidiary of Briggs & Stratton Corporation and an 80-year-old manufacturer of high-performance portable job site equipment, recently announced plans to expand its current facility in Holdrege, NE to increase production capacity and speed-to-market with new innovations. The expansion, which will include five new assembly lines, a prototyping lab, a new paint system and robotic weld cells, is expected to be complete at the end of calendar year 2019 and will result in new jobs in the Holdrege plant.

“By expanding the footprint, capabilities and efficiency of our current facility, Allmand will be equipped to meet increased demand for its products across all of its markets including oil & gas, construction and infrastructure,” says Ben Duke, senior vice president of job site and standby at Briggs & Stratton. “Allmand is an 80-year-old company backed by a 110-year-old company. With that amount of expertise in the industry and in power, the expansion announced today will provide the capacity for Allmand to innovate and grow well into the future.”
With roots meeting the needs of customers in the rugged oil & gas industry, Allmand has expanded its lineup of premium job site products to serve the channels that include construction, mining and rental markets. Because of this diversification, Allmand is now enjoying record levels of business.

This expansion aligns with Briggs & Stratton’s focus on growing its commercial business. Over the last five years, the Company has grown commercial sales by more than 70 percent and the Allmand business plays an important role in continuing this growth.

About Allmand Bros. Inc.:
Allmand Bros. Inc., a subsidiary of Briggs & Stratton Corporation, has been delivering compact equipment solutions since 1938. It offers an extensive line of rugged, portable, high-performance products for the construction, mining, rental and oil & gas industries. Its product lineup includes towable light towers, mobile generators, portable air compressors, mobile industrial heaters and portable light stands. For more information: 1502 W. 4th Ave., P.O. Box 888, Holdrege, NE 68949; www.allmand.com; 800-562-1373; info@allmand.com.

About Briggs & Stratton Corporation:
Briggs & Stratton Corporation (NYSE: BGG), headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is focused on providing power to get work done and make people’s lives better. Briggs & Stratton is the world’s largest producer of gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment, and is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of power generation, pressure washer, lawn and garden, turf care and job site products through its Briggs & Stratton®, Simplicity®, Snapper®, Ferris®, Vanguard®, Allmand®, Billy Goat®, Murray®, Branco® and Victa® brands. Briggs & Stratton products are designed, manufactured, marketed and serviced in over 100 countries on six continents. For additional information, please visit www.basco.com and www.briggsandstratton.com.

Safe Harbor Statement:
This release contains certain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. The words “anticipate”, “believe”, “estimate”, “expect”, “forecast”, “intend”, “plan”, “project”, and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements are based on the company’s current views and assumptions and involve risks and uncertainties that include, among other things, the ability to successfully forecast demand for its products; changes in interest rates and foreign exchange rates; the effects of weather on the purchasing patterns of consumers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs); actions of engine manufacturers and OEMs with whom the company competes; changes in laws and regulations, including U.S. tax reform, changes in tax rates, laws and regulations as well as related guidance; imposition of new, or change in existing, duties, tariffs and trade agreements; changes in customer and OEM demand; changes in prices of raw materials and parts that the company purchases; changes in domestic and foreign economic conditions (including effects from the U.K.’s decision to exit the European Union); the ability to bring new productive capacity on line efficiently and with good quality; outcomes of legal proceedings and claims; the ability to realize anticipated savings from the business optimization program and restructuring actions; and other factors disclosed from time to time in the company’s SEC filings or otherwise, including the factors discussed in Item 1A, Risk Factors, of the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K and in its periodic reports on Form 10-Q. The company undertakes no obligation to update forward-looking statements made in this release to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this release.

Kubota Names New President and CEO for Kubota Tractor Corporation and Kubota North America

Kubota Tractor Corporation appointed Haruyuki “Harry” Yoshida as the new president and CEO of Kubota Tractor Corporation (KTC) and Kubota North America, based in Grapevine, Texas, effective January 1, 2019. Yoshida is a 37-year Kubota veteran who most recently held the position of managing executive officer GM of farm and industrial machinery domain, strategy and operations headquarters in Osaka, Japan, and has previously spent time in the U.S. in various roles.

In conjunction with this announcement, current President and CEO, Masato Yoshikawa, has been promoted to the position of director and senior managing executive officer, GM of planning and control headquarters, GM of global IT management, and will assume his new role in Osaka, Japan, at the start of the new year. Yoshikawa has served as KTC president and CEO since late 2013, and has successfully led the company through considerable growth, change and technological advancements during his five-year tenure in the U.S.

“I’m eager and proud to continue the tremendous momentum Kubota has experienced over the last several years under Mr. Yoshikawa’s leadership, and look forward to leading the company through the next phase of development and growth in the U.S.,” said Yoshida. “We are committed to diversifying our product lines and expanding our infrastructure to better meet the needs of our customers and dealers, and I am confident we will continue to further strengthen the Kubota brand in the U.S. marketplace and throughout North America in the process.”

Strong Execution Drives Record Quarterly Results for Generac; Raising Outlook for Remainder of 2018

Generac Holdings Inc. (NYSE: GNRC) (“Generac” or the “Company”), 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, 2018.

Third Quarter 2018 Highlights

  • Net sales increased 22.7% to $559.5 million during the third quarter of 2018 as compared to $455.8 million in the prior-year third quarter, including $13.4 million of contribution from the Selmec acquisition, which closed on June 1, 2018.  Core sales growth, which excludes both the impact of acquisitions and foreign currency, was approximately 20%.
  • Gross profit margin improved 110 basis points to 35.4% as compared to 34.3% in the third quarter of 2017.
  • Net income attributable to the Company during the third quarter was $75.8 million, or $1.11 per share, as compared to $39.4 million, or $0.63 per share, for the same period of 2017.
  • Adjusted net income attributable to the Company, as defined in the accompanying reconciliation schedules, was $89.1 million, or $1.43 per share, as compared to $57.4 million, or $0.92 per share, in the third quarter of 2017.
  • Adjusted EBITDA before deducting for non-controlling interests, as defined in the accompanying reconciliation schedules, improved to $124.5 million, or 22.2% of net sales, as compared to $88.4 million, or 19.4% of net sales, in the prior year.
  • Cash flow from operations was $59.3 million as compared to $66.3 million in the prior year quarter.  Free cash flow, as defined in the accompanying reconciliation schedules, was $47.0 million as compared to $60.4 million in the third quarter of 2017.
  • The Company is increasing its full-year 2018 sales growth guidance to approximately 20% with Adjusted EBITDA margins, before deducting for non-controlling interests, of approximately 21.0%.

“Our third quarter results were a record for Generac as we experienced broad based growth across all of our end markets,” said Aaron Jagdfeld, President and Chief Executive Officer.

“Shipments of residential products were again particularly strong with demand climbing to record levels as disruptions from power outages continued to drive awareness around the home standby category and the need for homeowners to have back-up power.  Sales of our C&I mobile and stationary products were also strong during the quarter with rental, telecom, and healthcare verticals experiencing outsized growth.  With a healthy backlog entering the fourth quarter, the fundamentals of our business have never been stronger and we remain focused on execution as we further drive shareholder value.”

Additional Third Quarter 2018 Consolidated Highlights

Residential product sales increased 24.2% to $311.9 million as compared to $251.2 million in the prior year.  Recall that the prior year quarter included the impacts from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.  C&I product sales increased 18.7% to $206.4 million as compared to $173.8 million in the prior year, with core sales growth of approximately 15%.

Gross profit margin improved 110 basis points to 35.4% as compared to 34.3% in the prior-year third quarter.  A significant favorable mix shift towards home standby generator sales drove the majority of this improvement, with price / cost factors being largely neutral to gross margins relative to the prior year.

Operating expenses increased $7.7 million, or 9.2%, as compared to the third quarter of 2017.  The increase was primarily driven by higher variable operating expenses given the higher sales volumes, an increase in employee & incentive compensation costs, and recurring operating expenses from the Selmec acquisition.  These items were partially offset by lower promotion, marketing and intangible amortization expenses.

Provision for income taxes for the current year quarter was $20.1 million, or an effective tax rate of 20.8%, as compared to $20.4 million, or 33.9% effective tax rate, for the prior year.

Cash flow from operations was $59.3 million as compared to $66.3 million in the prior-year third quarter, and free cash flow was $47.0 million as compared to $60.4 million in the same quarter last year.  Higher operating earnings were more than offset by the timing of certain cash flows related to taxes, interest, pensions, capital expenditures and sales of extended warranties.

The current year earnings per share calculation of $1.11 includes the impact of a $6.9 million adjustment to increase the value of the redeemable noncontrolling interest for the Pramac acquisition, resulting in an $0.11 reduction in earnings per share. Under U.S. GAAP accounting rules, any adjustments to the redemption value are recorded directly to retained earnings.  However, the redemption value adjustments are required to be reflected in the earnings per share calculation as detailed in the accompanying reconciliation schedules.

On January 1, 2018, the Company adopted Accounting Standards Update 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, and all related amendments, commonly known as the “new revenue recognition standard”.  The full retrospective method was elected under this standard, which requires application to all periods presented.  As a result, the prior-year 2017 results have been restated accordingly.  However, the adoption of this standard did not have a material impact on the Company’s financial statements.

Business Segment Results

Domestic Segment

Domestic segment sales increased 24.9% to $453.3 million as compared to $362.9 million in the prior-year quarter.  The current-year quarter continued to experience strong growth in shipments of home standby generators, C&I mobile products, C&I stationary generators, and service parts, all of which contributed to the year-over-year growth.

Adjusted EBITDA for the segment was $117.1 million, or 25.8% of net sales, as compared to $82.8 million in the prior year, or 22.8% of net sales.  Adjusted EBITDA margin in the current year benefitted from favorable mix, improved operating leverage, a favorable pricing environment, and focused margin improvement initiatives.  These benefits were partially offset by an increase in employee costs and general inflationary pressures.

International Segment

International segment sales increased 14.3% to $106.3 million as compared to $92.9 million in the prior-year quarter.  Core sales growth was approximately 3%, with the Selmec acquisition contributing an additional $13.4 million.

Adjusted EBITDA for the segment, before deducting for non-controlling interests, improved to $7.4 million, or 6.9% of net sales, as compared to $5.6 million, or 6.1% of net sales, in the prior year.  The improvement was primarily due to increased leverage of fixed operating costs on the higher organic sales volumes and favorable mix.

Updated 2018 Outlook

The Company is increasing its prior guidance for revenue growth for full-year 2018, reflecting  the favorable end market conditions primarily driven by higher than expected power outage activity experienced during the second half of 2018.  Full year net sales are now expected to grow by approximately 19 to 20% over the prior year, which is an increase from the 13 to 14% growth previously expected.  Core sales growth is expected to be approximately 16 to 17%, which is an increase from the approximate 10% core growth previously expected.

Given the increase in net sales guidance, net income margins, before deducting for non-controlling interests, are now expected to be approximately 12% for the full-year 2018, which is an increase from the 10.5% guidance previously expected.  Adjusted EBITDA margins, also before deducting for non-controlling interests, are now expected to be approximately 21% for the year, up from the prior 20.0% guidance.

Operating and free cash flow generation is expected to remain strong, with the conversion of adjusted net income to free cash flow forecasted to be approximately 80 to 85%.

About Generac

Founded in 1959, Generac is a leading designer and manufacturer of a wide range of power generation equipment and other engine powered products.  As a leader in power equipment serving residential, light commercial, and industrial markets, Generac’s power products are available globally through a broad network of independent dealers, distributors, retailers, wholesalers and equipment rental companies, as well as sold direct to certain end user customers.

Forward-looking Information

Certain statements contained in this news release, as well as other information provided from time to time by Generac Holdings Inc. or its employees, may contain forward looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward looking statements. Forward-looking statements give Generac’s current expectations and projections relating to the Company’s financial condition, results of operations, plans, objectives, future performance and business. You can identify forward-looking statements by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts. These statements may include words such as “anticipate,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “project,” “plan,” “intend,” “believe,” “confident,” “may,” “should,” “can have,” “likely,” “future,” “optimistic” and other words and terms of similar meaning in connection with any discussion of the timing or nature of future operating or financial performance or other events.

Any such forward looking statements are not guarantees of performance or results, and involve risks, uncertainties (some of which are beyond the Company’s control) and assumptions. Although Generac believes any forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, you should be aware that many factors could affect Generac’s actual financial results and cause them to differ materially from those anticipated in any forward-looking statements, including:

  • frequency and duration of power outages impacting demand for Generac products;
  • availability, cost and quality of raw materials and key components and labor needed in producing Generac products;
  • the impact on our results of possible fluctuations in interest rates, foreign currency exchange rates, commodities, product mix, and regulatory tariffs;
  • the possibility that the expected synergies, efficiencies and cost savings of our acquisitions will not be realized, or will not be realized within the expected time period;
  • the risk that our acquisitions will not be integrated successfully;
  • difficulties Generac may encounter as its business expands globally;
  • Generac’s dependence on its distribution network;
  • Generac’s ability to invest in, develop or adapt to changing technologies and manufacturing techniques;
  • loss of key management and employees;
  • increase in product and other liability claims or recalls; and
  • changes in environmental, health and safety laws and regulations.

Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, Generac’s actual results may vary in material respects from those projected in any forward-looking statements. A detailed discussion of these and other factors that may affect future results is contained in Generac’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), particularly in the Risk Factors section of the 2017 Annual Report on Form 10-K and in its periodic reports on Form 10-Q. Stockholders, potential investors and other readers should consider these factors carefully in evaluating the forward-looking statements.

Any forward-looking statement made by Generac in this press release speaks only as of the date on which it is made.  Generac undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise, except as may be required by law.

Non-GAAP Financial Metrics

Core Sales

The Company references core sales to further supplement Generac’s condensed consolidated financial statements presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP.  Core sales excludes the impact of acquisitions and fluctuations in foreign currency translation.  Management believes that core sales facilitates easier and more meaningful comparison of net sales performance with prior and future periods.

Adjusted EBITDA

The computation of adjusted EBITDA attributable to the Company is based on the definition of EBITDA contained in Generac’s credit agreement dated as of May 31, 2013, as amended.  To supplement the Company’s condensed consolidated financial statements presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP, Generac provides a summary to show the computation of adjusted EBITDA, which excludes the impact of non-controlling interests, taking into account certain charges and gains that were recognized during the periods presented.

Adjusted Net Income

To further supplement Generac’s condensed consolidated financial statements presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP, the Company provides a summary to show the computation of adjusted net income attributable to the Company. Adjusted net income attributable to the Company is defined as net income before non-controlling interests and provision for income taxes adjusted for the following items: cash income tax expense, amortization of intangible assets, amortization of deferred financing costs and original issue discount related to the Company’s debt, intangible impairment charges, certain transaction costs and other purchase accounting adjustments, losses on extinguishment of debt, business optimization expenses, certain other non-cash gains and losses, and adjusted net income attributable to non-controlling interests.

Free Cash Flow

In addition, we reference free cash flow to further supplement Generac’s condensed consolidated financial statements presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP.  Free cash flow is defined as net cash provided by operating activities, plus proceeds from beneficial interests in securitization transactions, less expenditures for property and equipment, and is intended to be a measure of operational cash flow taking into account additional capital expenditure investment into the business.

The presentation of this additional information is not meant to be considered in isolation of, or as a substitute for, results prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP.  Please see our SEC filings for additional discussion of the basis for Generac’s reporting of Non-GAAP financial measures, which includes why the Company believes these measures provide useful information to investors and the additional purposes for which management uses the non-GAAP financial information.

SOURCE: Generac Holdings Inc.

Ocean Bio-Chem, Inc. Reports Record Third Quarter Net Sales and 49% Increase in Third Quarter Net Income

Ocean Bio-Chem, Inc. (NASDAQ: OBCI) announced its financial results for the third quarter and the first nine months of 2018. For the three months ended September 30, 2018, the Company reported record net sales of approximately $13.2 million, compared to net sales of approximately $11.3 million for the same period in 2017, an increase of approximately $1.8 million or 16.3%.

For the three months ended September 30, 2018, net income was approximately $1.3 million, compared to net income of approximately $854,000 for the third quarter of 2017, an increase of approximately $419,000 or 49.1%. Diluted earnings per share for the three months ended September 30, 2018 were $0.14, compared to $0.09 during the same period in 2017, an increase of 55.6%. The Company also reported record net sales for the nine months ended September 30, 2018 of approximately $33.0 million, compared to net sales of approximately $29.2 million for the same period of 2017, an increase of 13.0%.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2018, net income was approximately $2.9 million, compared to net income of approximately $2.3 million for the first nine months of 2017, an increase of approximately $607,000 or 26.3%. Diluted earnings per share for the nine months ended September 30, 2018 were $0.31 compared to $0.25 for the same period in 2017, an increase of 24.0%.

Peter Dornau, the Company’s President and CEO, commented: “We had a very strong third quarter in 2018, with record net sales and an almost 50% increase in our net income. The increase in net income is principally a result of the Company’s increased net sales and the benefit of a reduced corporate tax rate under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. I am also pleased to report that, for the sixth consecutive year, we have achieved record sales for the nine month period ended September 30.

Mr. Dornau continued: “The Company realized strong sales growth in most of its major markets, including mass merchandisers, specialty marine/boating and sporting/outdoor retailers, as well as online retailers and marine distributors. Most of our product groups experienced robust sales, particularly Star brite® marine products, Star brite® and private label winterizing products and Star Tron® fuel treatment products.”

Mr. Dornau continued: “In the third quarter, we had a ribbon cutting ceremony for our expanded plant and distribution facilities in Montgomery Alabama, and commenced operations in our expanded distribution space. The timing of the expansion enabled the Company to accommodate its increased sales volume. In addition, as we previously announced, the Company also acquired assets of Snappy Marine, Inc. in the third quarter. As a result of the acquisition, we have added Snappy Teak-NU®, a cleaning product for teak decks on boats, to our product portfolio. The acquisition should be accretive to income in 2019.

The Company’s financial outlook for the balance of 2018 appears to be favorable, and we are cautiously optimistic that the Company will experience continued growth of our business in 2019.”

Jeffrey Barocas, Chief Financial Officer of the Company, commented: “The financial condition of the Company continues to be strong. At September 30, 2018, the Company had approximately $4.4 million in cash (including $1.8 million in unrestricted cash and $2.6 million restricted to use in connection with the expansion of our Montgomery, Alabama facilities), and a current ratio of 3.5 to 1. In addition, during the third quarter of 2018, we entered into a new revolving line of credit agreement, which positions us well for continued growth.”

About Ocean Bio-Chem, Inc.:
Ocean Bio-Chem, Inc. manufactures, markets and distributes a broad line of appearance and maintenance products for the marine, automotive, power sports, recreational vehicle and outdoor power equipment markets under the Star brite®, Star Tron®, Performacide®, Outdoor Collection and other brand names within the United States of America and Canada. In addition, the Company produces private label formulations of many of its products for various customers and provides custom blending and packaging services for these and other products. The Company also manufactures, markets and distributes a line of disinfectant, sanitizing and deodorizing products under the Star brite® and Performacide® brand names.

The Company’s web sites are: www.oceanbiochem.com; www.starbrite.com; www.startron.com; and www.performacide.com

Douglas Dynamics Inc (PLOW) Declares $0.27 Quarterly Dividend

Douglas Dynamics Inc (NYSE:PLOW) announced a quarterly dividend. Shareholders of record on Friday, December 21st will be given a dividend of 0.265 per share by the auto parts company on Monday, December 31st. This represents a $1.06 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.94%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, December 20th.

Douglas Dynamics has increased its dividend payment by an average of 3.3% annually over the last three years and has raised its dividend annually for the last 5 consecutive years. Douglas Dynamics has a dividend payout ratio of 50.0% meaning its dividend is sufficiently covered by earnings. Equities analysts expect Douglas Dynamics to earn $1.92 per share next year, which means the company should continue to be able to cover its $1.06 annual dividend with an expected future payout ratio of 55.2%.

Douglas Dynamics stock traded up $0.79 during mid-day trading on Wednesday, hitting $36.90. The company had a trading volume of 5,369 shares, compared to its average volume of 91,742. The company has a market capitalization of $803.78 million, a price-to-earnings ratio of 27.13 and a beta of 1.00. Douglas Dynamics has a 12 month low of $34.71 and a 12 month high of $49.50. The company has a current ratio of 2.47, a quick ratio of 1.42 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.00.

Douglas Dynamics (NYSE:PLOW) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Monday, November 5th. The auto parts company reported $0.44 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.45 by ($0.01). The company had revenue of $124.80 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $125.37 million. Douglas Dynamics had a net margin of 12.49% and a return on equity of 15.64%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was down .4% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the business earned $0.40 EPS. On average, equities research analysts predict that Douglas Dynamics will post 2 EPS for the current year.

Several research firms recently weighed in on PLOW. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Douglas Dynamics from a “hold” rating to a “strong sell” rating in a report on Thursday, November 8th. ValuEngine lowered shares of Douglas Dynamics from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Tuesday, November 6th. Finally, Craig Hallum set a $43.00 target price on shares of Douglas Dynamics and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, November 7th.

In other news, VP Robert J. Young purchased 1,165 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, December 6th. The shares were purchased at an average price of $35.00 per share, with a total value of $40,775.00. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Insiders own 3.10% of the company’s stock.

Douglas Dynamics Company Profile

Douglas Dynamics, Inc operates as a manufacturer and up-fitter of commercial work truck attachments and equipment primarily in North America. It operates in two segments, Work Truck Attachments and Work Truck Solutions. The Work Truck Attachments segment manufactures and sells snow and ice control attachments, including snowplows, and sand and salt spreaders for light and heavy duty trucks, as well as various related parts and accessories.

OPEI Testifies Before CARB on 2020 Emissions Rulemaking Updates

OPEI and the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association testified before the California Air Resources Board in November on the importance of industry and agency collaboration as part of the agency’s 2020 small engine emissions reduction rulemaking process. CARB staff reported on recently published SORE emission exposure and compliance reports, and the status of commercial-grade zero-emission equipment.

Several stakeholders testified in support of regulations requiring more stringent SORE emission standards and zero-emission equipment.

CARB staff continues work on a several rulemaking-related studies. The rule looks to reduce SORE related emissions inventory by at least 80 percent by 2031, and is expected to be proposed to the Board in 2020. OPEI’s Engine and Fuels Committee continues to work with CARB throughout the rulemaking process.

Textron Specialized Vehicles Ceases Production of Dixie Chopper, Jacobsen Zero-Turn Mowers

According to a Dec. 5 memo to dealers from Rachel Luken Thompson, vice president of golf & turf international and outdoor power equipment for Textron Specialized Vehicles, the company has has ceased production of Dixie Chopper and Jacobsen zero-turn mowers and Jacobsen Truckster L/M series utility vehicles.

In the memo, Thompson says, “This was a difficult decision, but market pressure and a change in the economic circumstances of the business made it necessary.”

The company says it will continue to provide sales, warranty, parts, and service support to our dealers and end-use customers, and plan to do so well into the future. They will maintain a team of employees in Greencastle, Ind., to provide service, support and fulfill parts and accessories orders. They will maintain the dealer portal.

Textron Specialized Vehicles will honor all factory warranties on new units, whether the unit is currently in a dealer’s inventory, or is purchased by a dealer from our remaining factory stock, according to the memo.

In addition, the company will continue to work with financing partners on dealer floorplan and retail financing programs, to help dealers manage and sell existing inventory. All remaining stock of Dixie Chopper and Jacobsen units in the company’s possession will be sold.

AEM Elects 2019 Officers, New Directors

AEM announced its 2019 officers as well as directors elected to the AEM Board of Directors and AG and CE Sector Boards at its recent annual business meeting.

2019 AEM Officers are:
Chair John D. Lagemann, Sr. VP Sales & Marketing, Ag & Turf Div., Regions 3 & 4, Deere & Co.
Vice Chair Jeffrey R. Reed, President & CEO, Reed International/VSS Macropaver
AG Chair Gerald D. Johnson, President Farm, Ranch & Agriculture Div., Blount International Inc.
CE Chair Steven W. Berglund, President & CEO, Trimble Inc.
Treasurer Todd H. Stucke, Sr. VP Marketing, Product Support & Strategic Projects, Kubota Tractor Corp.
Secretary Dennis J. Slater, President, AEM

“We welcome our 2019 officers and new and returning directors and want to publicly thank them and their companies for continued support of the Association and its goals,” said AEM President Dennis Slater. “AEM could not succeed and grow without the dedication of its volunteer leadership and active member participation. They help ensure AEM delivers quality results that continue to strengthen member companies and the industries they serve.”

AEM officers and directors come from an industry cross-section and work cooperatively on behalf of the entire membership. They provide strategic direction and guidance for Association initiatives that help members and the industry succeed in an ever-changing business environment. Key action areas include advocacy and public affairs, market information, exhibitions and events, and safety, regulatory and technical issues.

Directors elected to the AEM Board of Directors:
Jason M. Andringa, President & CEO, Vermeer Corp.
Steven W. Berglund, President & CEO, Trimble Inc.
Ted Bojanowski, VP Sales, Marketing & System Engineering, Parker Hannifin Corp.
Robert B. Crain, Sr. VP & General Manager Americas, AGCO Corp.
Matthew P. Daley, Sr. VP Sales–Milking & Dairy Farming N.A., GEA Farm Technologies, Inc.
John L. Garrison, Chairman, President & CEO, Terex Corp.
Scott Harris, VP Case IH N.A., CNH Industrial America LLC
Linda Hasenfratz, CEO, Linamar Corp.
John D. Lagemann, Sr. VP Sales & Marketing, Ag & Turf Div., Regions 3 & 4, Deere & Co.
Ray O’Connor, President & CEO, Topcon Positioning Systems, Inc.
Greg Petras, President, Kuhn North America, Inc.
Rodney Schrader, Chairman & CEO, Komatsu America Corp.
Directors elected to the AEM AG Sector Board:
Mark D. Core, Exec. VP & Chief Marketing Officer, Vermeer Corp.
Matthew P. Daley, Sr. VP Sales–Milking & Dairy Farming N.A., GEA Farm Technologies, Inc.
Richard Fox-Marrs, President & CEO, JCB Inc.
Bill T. Hurley, VP Aftersales, Customer Support & Distribution Development N.A., AGCO Corp.
John D. Lagemann, Sr. VP Sales & Marketing, Ag & Turf Div., Regions 3 & 4, Deere & Co.
Bret J. Lieberman, VP New Holland N.A., CNH Industrial America LLC
Leif J. Magnusson, President CLAAS Global Sales Americas, CLAAS Global Sales Americas, Inc.
Brian A. McKown, Exec. VP & COO, Kinze Manufacturing, Inc.
Leah Olson, CEO, SeedMaster/DOT, SeedMaster Mfg.
Greg Petras, President, Kuhn North America, Inc.
Viren Popli, President & CEO, Mahindra USA, Inc.
Todd H. Stucke, Sr. VP Marketing, Product Support & Strategic Projects, Kubota Tractor Corp.

Directors elected to the AEM CE Sector Board:
Steven W. Berglund, President & CEO, Trimble Inc.
Bradley J. Boehler, President, Skyjack Inc.
Susanne Cobey, President & CEO, Eagle Crusher Co., Inc.
Anthony D. Fassino, VP Building Construction Products Div., Caterpillar Inc.
Laura Ness Owens, VP Marketing, Doosan Bobcat Inc.
Melvin Porter, President & CEO, Link-Belt Cranes
Bryan T. Rich, Chairman & CEO, SmartEquip Inc.
Stephen Roy, President Sales Region Americas, Volvo Construction Equip.
Eric Sauvage, President & CEO, LBX Company LLC
Rodney Schrader, Chairman & CEO, Komatsu America Corp.

BMZ Group is Expanding in Virginia Beach and Adding Jobs to the Community

BMZ Group, a European-based company that produces high-tech battery systems for vehicles, has selected a new location in Virginia Beach to expand its battery manufacturing operations. BMZ will retain 21 full-time jobs in Virginia Beach and create 30 new positions with annual salaries of $42,179, according to a news release from the city.

BMZ opened its U.S. headquarters in Virginia Beach in 2011.

The Virginia Beach Economic Development Authority approved a $170,000 grant based on BMZ’s capital investment and the number of new jobs it would create with its expansion. BMZ will invest $2,806,000 in Virginia Beach with purchases of real estate, construction, machinery and tools, according to the news release.

“BMZ has grown significantly in the past two years,” said Michelle Chapleau, Virginia Beach Economic Development business coordinator. “BMZ’s relationships with quality vendors like STIHL and the availability of a highly skilled workforce helped us compete successfully for this expansion project.”

Thoughts for the Day

“Strong people stand up for themselves, but the strongest people stand up for others.”
– Unknown

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
– William Arthur Ward

“As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.”
– Donald E. Westlake

“Sharing the holiday with other people, and feeling that you’re giving of yourself, gets you past all the commercialism.”
– Caroline Kennedy

“The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing others’ loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of the holidays.”
– W. C. Jones

“Love the giver more than the gift.”
– Brigham Young

“Great things are done by a series of small things put together.”
–Vincent Van Gogh

“See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see.”
– Dr. Wayne Dyer

“Happiness is not determined by what’s happening around you, but rather what’s happening inside you.”
– Adrian Corday

“May your walls know joy; may every room hold laughter and every window open to great possibility.”
– Mary Anne Radmacher-Hershey

Jury Awards $14.4 Million to Exmark in Beatrice in Patent Case

A federal jury in Omaha has awarded a Beatrice manufacturer $14.4 million in damages in the retrial of a patent infringement case.

It’s the second time the case has gone to trial. The first time, in 2015, a jury awarded Exmark Manufacturing $24.3 million

Exmark, which makes lawnmowers, alleged in a 2010 lawsuit that Briggs & Stratton Power Products Group was manufacturing mowers under the Ferris and Snapper Pro brand names that infringed on a patent for multi-blade mowers equipped with baffles between blades that allow the mower to be converted from a mulching to a side-discharge mower.

After the first trial, Briggs & Stratton appealed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which found the trial judge had erred when he dismissed a Briggs & Stratton defense that the Exmark patent in question was not valid.

The 8th U.S. Circuit also threw out the damages award because it said an expert employed by Exmark did not provide an adequate explanation as to how she came up with a 5 percent royalty rate figure on which the jury relied in calculating damages.

The case was sent back to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, where a five-day trial started last week.

By then, it already had been determined that certain Briggs lawnmowers infringed on Exmark’s patent, and Senior Judge Joseph F. Bataillon reaffirmed the earlier jury verdict finding Briggs’s infringement was willful.

The question for the jury related only to damages.

Shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday, after deliberating for about three hours, the jury returned with a verdict, awarding Exmark $14,380,062.24 to compensate it for Briggs’ infringement.

A Briggs & Stratton spokesman declined to comment on the verdict.

Equipment Dealers Association Releases 2018 Compensation & Benefits Report

The Equipment Dealers Association (EDA) has released its 2018 Compensation & Benefits Report. This report is the industry’s most comprehensive collection of data related to benefits and wages for dealership employees in North America. Data from the report is collected every two years from agriculture equipment dealers in the United States and Canada

This year nearly 300 equipment dealers submitted their data – these responses represent over 1,100 store locations. In addition to survey data, the report includes a variety of human resources sample forms, such as a hiring checklist and drug and alcohol inquiry authorization, that can be used as-is or revised as needed to fit the needs of the dealership.

The 2018 Compensation & Benefits report is available for purchase at both a member and non-member price. A complimentary copy is provided to those who participated in the survey, regardless of membership status. EDA is grateful to those dealers who took the time to complete the survey and provide us with this valuable data.

The 2018 survey and report are very similar to the 2016 version with one small change. “We added a new volume category (less than $5 million) this year in an attempt to provide a clearer picture of the industry,” said Joe Dykes, EDA’s VP of Industry Relations. About 13% of our responses came from that category but, as expected, the majority of responses (48%) came from the $10-$50 million volume category.”

EDA also produces a Compensation & Benefits Report specifically for Outdoor Power Equipment dealers. That data is currently being compiled and the report will be available in early 2019.

Questions about the survey and culminating report should be directed to surveys@equipmentdealer.org.

About EDA:
Founded in 1900, the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA), is a non-profit trade organization representing 4,500 retail dealers extensively engaged in the sale and service of agricultural, construction, industrial, forestry, outdoor power, lawn and garden, and/or turf equipment. EDA provides essential value to its members by enhancing the dealer-manufacturer relationship and advocating for a positive legislative and regulatory environment. EDA is headquartered in St. Louis, MO and is affiliated with regional associations located throughout the United States and Canada.

OPEESA Annual Meeting to be Held March 3-6, 2019 in Miami/Coral Gables

The OPEESA Annual Meeting bring world-class speakers to a spectacular setting at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, FL. The theme is Dealing with the Challenge of Change. The Industry Update will be presented by Tom Cromwell, Group President – Kohler Power and the Washington Update will be presented by Daniel J. Mustico, VP Government and Market Affairs, OPEI.

Other speakers include Major Dan “Noonan” Rooney, Author and Founder Folds of Honor about Living Life Between Fear and Faith; Rob Weinhold, Chief Executive, Fallston Group – The Reputation Agency discussing Crisis Management to Minimize Your Business Risk, Bill Sullivan, Executive Vice President of Advocacy, American Trucking Associations discussing the State of the Transportation Industry, our Annual Economic Update from Alan Beaulieu, Economist, ITR Economics, and our closing speaker, Tim David, Speaker, Brightside Group, highlighting Seven Magic Words, that will improve your business connections.

We are also delighted that we have three naming sponsors for our events: Greenworks Commercial, Inc., Sheffield Financial, and Wells Fargo.

For more information, click here. You can also email Dana for more information, dana@opeesa.com.

Inventor of the riding Lawnmower: Charles ‘Chuck’ Harrison, the Most Important Person You Never Heard Of, Dead at 87

The man once called the “Jackie Robinson of design,” who invented so many products that Sears changed its policy on hiring blacks; who created many of the household items you take for granted, has passed away at the age of 87.

Charles “Chuck” Harrison is considered the greatest black industrial designer who ever lived, and no doubt ranks among the greatest of any color, though I can’t name another industrial designer. He is unquestionably the most prolific product designer in American history and changed American life and culture so much, even he couldn’t name every single product for which he was responsible.

When I first heard that a black man had invented the plastic trash can, I thought it was one of those internet rumors like the one about Millicent LaKeisha Jenkins, who was actually the first woman who “Millie Rocked” (look it up).

But it is true. Harrison is credited with inventing that green plastic rectangular trash can on wheels that sits outside almost every home in America. Harrison once told this writer it was his favorite invention because he no longer had to listen to the noise from cylindrical metal trash cans being dragged to the curb.

After deciding to pursue industrial design because he struggled with dyslexia, Harrison graduated from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and went on to get his Master’s from the Illinois Institute of Technology. While working for Robert Podall Associates, Harrison was asked to redesign a set of toy binoculars that were becoming very popular. Harrison gave it a sleek design, figured out a lever system for changing the images, and colored it orange. From 1958 until the mid-’90s that toy, the Viewmaster, kept that same form and remained firmly atop the list of the most iconic toys of all time.

In 1961 after his application was initially denied because of his race, Harrison was called up to the big leagues when he became the first black executive at Sears, Roebuck and Company. At the time, Sears was the Amazon, Apple and WalMart of its day, controlling the consumer goods market.

During his time at Sears, Harrison redesigned the electric sewing machine into the product we know today. In fact, he designed 8 to 12 different sewing machine models every year for 12 years.

The first widely available portable hairdryer? That was him. The riding lawnmower? He did that. The see-through measuring cup? Harrison, too. In all, he created and designed more than 750 products, including baby cribs, hedge clippers, steam irons, riding lawn mowers, shoe buffers, portable turntables, blenders, circular fluorescent light bulbs, electric frying pans, consumer power tools, coffee percolators, fondue pots, toasters, stoves, hearing aids, band saws, wheelbarrows and cordless electric shavers.

In 1993 he retired from Sears and began a teaching career. In 2005, he published his autobiography: A Life’s Design: The Life and Work of Industrial Designer Charles Harrison. In 2008, he received a Smithsonian National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement. He passed away on Dec. 2, 2018.

Couple Donates New Lawnmower to High School Worker with Cerebral Palsy

Keith Desilets knows a lot about many things: classic Camaros, his favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and how to cut lawns. Desilets, 40, is in his first year working on the Westwood High School grounds crew, and by all accounts is an exemplary worker. Rain or shine, he shows up each day to keep the athletic fields looking sharp for Warriors’ practices and home games. Desilets has cerebral palsy, which has weakened the right side of his body, and intellectual disabilities.

Desilets is part of the Statesman’s Season for Caring program, which helps hundreds of families each year through local nonprofit agencies. He was nominated by Family Eldercare. He took the job at Westwood to make more money than he was making while supplementing Social Security disability payments with a part-time job at a car wash. Even working at Westwood, it’s hard to keep up with homeowner’s association payments for the house his mother left him after her death in 2009.

Desilets increases his income by mowing lawns in his Round Rock neighborhood. His services are a bargain for his four customers: $25 for the front and the back.

Recently, his lawnmower was giving him trouble, and the gas wasn’t getting to the engine. He had found a workaround, but it wasn’t a fix. One of the things Desilets most wanted — aside from the dream of owning a Camaro or going on vacation — was a new lawnmower. Roger and Angie Vokg read Desilets’ story in the Statesman and decided to buy him a new lawnmower: a Toro self-propelled one. “It just touched me,” Roger Vokg said of the story. “He’s a go-getter in my book.” Recently, Roger Vokg pulled the lawnmower with a big red bow on it out of his truck and rolled it up the driveway toward Desilets. “It’s a self-propelled one,” he said.

Roger Vokg and Desilets went over all the features of the lawnmower, like when to use the bag and when not to. “It helps for a windy day like this one,” Desilets says. “It goes everywhere. You have to get out a blower or sweep it up. That’s just wasting time.”

He’s practical and efficient. His supervisor, Benjamin Garcia, said in October that working with Desilets has taught him “how to respect handicapped people.” Garcia teared up: “He changed my life. I see life different now with him.”

The Vokgs also brought Desilets a filled gas can; a bag of food for his dog, Gunner, a husky-German shepherd mix; a camouflage jacket; and homemade pretzels. “I like camouflage,” Desilets says, pointing to his camouflage pants. “I’m like blank. That’s why I like camouflage.”

More folks are helping to give Desilets things on his wish list. Balcones Family Dental and Capital Area Dental Foundation will help with his dental care. Gunner will get his vaccines through Firehouse Animal Health Center, which is donating services to all the Season for Caring families. He still has needs. His garage door is broken, as is the light in his bedroom. The tires on his 2005 Honda Accord are going bald. Desilets also would benefit from H-E-B gift cards, help paying debt to his homeowners’ association, and the services of a professional house cleaner. His birthday is coming up on Jan. 1, and he’d love a new tool kit, a shop vacuum and to get Gunner a grooming.

To find out more about Desilets, contact Family Eldercare, 512-450-0844, familyeldercare.org.

Project Evergreen Introduces Heroes Helping Heroes

Paying a good deed forward is something we all could use more of these days. The loyal volunteers of Project EverGreen’s GreenCare and SnowCare for Troops programs do this each and every time they cut grass, fertilize a lawn or plow a driveway.

For a group of these volunteers, paying it forward takes on a special meaning, especially when they and their families have walked in the same shoes of the people they are helping out.
Project EverGreen’s Heroes Helping Heroes include veterans, active-duty military members or first responders who have registered to provide complimentary lawn care, basic landscape or snow plowing services to families of deployed military personnel.

“Not only have these individuals proudly served or are currently serving our country, but they are willing to go the extra mile and help military families during their time of greatest need,” said Cindy Code, executive director of the Project EverGreen.

Tyler Dixon, owner of Dixon Landscaping & Design in High Point, North Carolina, and a 15-year Navy veteran, is a GreenCare for Troops volunteer and knows full well how valuable the services both programs are to military families. He also knows how meaningful it is for the volunteers.

“Members of the military and their families are used to handling everything on their own, and they are reluctant to reach out and ask for help. They think they can handle it,” said Dixon.
Dixon said before they are deployed, military personnel often enjoy a normal 8 to 5 job and go home to their family every night just like millions of other Americans. But that routine is flipped upside down when a deployment comes around.

“When you are deployed your world, and your family’s world, is turned upside down,” said Dixon. “The emotional, mental and physical support is gone.”Dixon says his expectation of volunteering for GreenCare for Troops and Snow Care for Troops is to help military families get through things easier than he did. “The impact of both programs on military families is far greater than a volunteer will ever know,” adds Dixon. “The family may not send you a thank you note or text but the kindness you are showing them is truly appreciated.”

If you are interested in registering to become a GreenCare or SnowCare for Troops volunteer and helping the family of deployed military personnel call 888-611-2955 or register online.

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