SHERRILL — The city of Sherrill has two employers that are known for driving economic activity in the community — Briggs & Stratton Corp. and Sherrill Manufacturing, Inc.
Whether it’s hiring, manufacturing, or online sales, both companies and their employees generate economic activity for Sherrill’s downtown area, according to Brandon Lovett, city manager in Sherrill.
“From what I can see, there are more cars downtown. There are more people downtown, so there’s more activity,” says Lovett. “It’s certainly not to the level it was when Oneida Limited was here … but we have certainly seen the uptick of pedestrian traffic, of vehicle traffic, of commercial traffic.”
He also credited the Oneida Indian Nation, which built its first Maple Leaf Market here about three years ago. Lovett called the project a “significant investment” in the community.
Briggs & Stratton
The Sherrill location of Briggs & Stratton (NYSE: BGG), as of July 14, had an hourly employee count of 680 and was “working to hire a significant number of people,” Lauren Vagnini, director of communications at Briggs & Stratton, tells CNYBJ in an email.
As of July 14, the firm had 50 hourly positions open, including manufacturing operations such as assembly, weld, and material handling. Briggs & Stratton also has salaried positions available in engineering and operations.
The number of positions available is due to “continued growth” within the Sherrill facility related to “strong product demand” and the company’s recent announcement to contract manufacture STIHL’s new line of zero-turn mowers, Vagnini says.
On-site hiring events are scheduled each Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Sherrill plant, which is located at 100 E. Seneca St.
Briggs & Stratton opened its $10 million, 552,000-square-foot commercial-products manufacturing facility in Sherrill in September 2019.
With the company’s commercial-market growth, Briggs & Stratton needed a larger facility for production of its Ferris and Snapper Pro brand mowers, originally manufactured in Munnsville in Madison County.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin–based Briggs & Stratton is the world’s largest producer of engines for outdoor power equipment, and a designer, manufacturer and marketer of lithium-ion battery, standby generator, energy storage system, lawn and garden, turf care, and job site products, per the company’s LinkedIn profile.
In addition to the business activity at Briggs & Stratton, Sherrill Manufacturing is also boosting the economy of the city of Sherrill.
The co-owner of Sherrill Manufacturing says its internet business more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Its business with the U.S. government through the General Services Agency (GSA) has also improved following enactment of the Support Procurement of our Nation’s Stainless Steel Act (or SPOONSS Act) in early 2020.
That’s according to Matt Roberts, co-owner, president and COO of Sherrill Manufacturing, who spoke with CNYBJ on July 11.
Sherrill Manufacturing, situated at 102 E. Seneca St. in Sherrill, is the last remaining flatware manufacturer in the U.S. Both Roberts and Greg Owens founded the company in 2005, when the firm acquired substantially all of the flatware manufacturing assets from Oneida Limited, per the Sherrill Manufacturing website. The company currently has about 76 employees.
Sherrill Manufacturing is known for its Liberty Tabletop brand, which is a division of the business.
SPOONSS Act impact
As Roberts explained it, the GSA (the purchasing arm for the federal government) a number of years ago decentralized its purchasing process. Sherrill Manufacturing would send all of its government flatware to two main warehouses in Burlington, New Jersey and French Camp, California.
When GSA decentralized, a lot of the purchasing was made in the form of micro-purchases and Sherrill Manufacturing lost a lot of that business, according to Roberts.
In addition, some of the other distributors that served the GSA were selling products that were touted as “made in the USA” but they weren’t, he added.
He went on to say that U.S. Representative Claudia Tenney (R–New Hartford) first introduced the SPOONSS Act in 2017 and former U.S. Representative Anthony Brindisi (D–Utica) also supported the measure after he took office in 2019.
SPOONSS Act is legislation to require the military to purchase American-made flatware, like the kind produced at Sherrill Manufacturing. The measure was included in the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which President Donald Trump signed into law.
The law is starting to give the company a lift.
“What we’re seeing with that is that it’s slowly ramping up our GSA business,” says Roberts. “What we’re starting to see is that our GSA [business] is growing. Not super-fast, but it’s growing. It’s very noticeable.”
Besides its GSA activity, Roberts notes that Sherrill Manufacturing’s internet business has “grown like 250 percent” and it’s become the “biggest part of our business” due to the pandemic as people stayed home and bought online.
“This year, [it’s] not up as much as it had been in the past. I think inflation has a lot to do with that,” he adds.