Caterpillar Inc. last week announced it has selected land near Athens, Ga., as the location for a new facility that will build small track-type tractors and mini hydraulic excavators. The state-of-the-art, 1 million-square-foot facility is expected to employ 1,400 people once it is fully operational. The total investment for opening the new facility will be about $200 million.
In addition to the 1,400 people working in the new facility, Caterpillar estimates another 2,800 full-time jobs will be created in the United States among suppliers and at other non-Caterpillar companies that will support the new facility.
“We are making a series of significant investments around the world to position Caterpillar to maintain its leadership position, and I am thrilled to be in Georgia today to announce that Athens will be the newest city to be home to a Caterpillar production facility,” said Caterpillar chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman.
In late 2011, as part of a strategic decision to move production closer to the majority of customers who use small track-type tractors and mini hydraulic excavators, Caterpillar announced plans to open a new manufacturing facility in North America. The new facility will be part of Caterpillar’s Building Construction Products Division, based in Cary, N.C.
“The decision to shift production from Japan to the United States is driven by the proximity to a large base of customers in North America and Europe,” said BCP vice president Mary Bell. “Our objective is to better serve those customers from this new factory. The Athens site was selected from among dozens of locations considered due to its proximity to the major ports of Savannah and Charleston, a strong regional base of potential suppliers, a positive and pro-active business climate and a good pool of potential employees with manufacturing experience.”
The North American facility will become Caterpillar’s global source for small track-type tractors. For mini hydraulic excavators, the new facility will provide completed machines for customers in North and South America. In addition, the company plans to export partially assembled mini excavator base units to a facility in Europe, where final assembly will take place, improving delivery times for European customers.
Work at the new plant will include major fabrications, paint and final assembly for both product lines. The company also plans to have an on-site product distribution center for small track-type tractors and mini hydraulic excavators produced at the new facility. These machines are currently made at Caterpillar’s Sagami, Japan, facility. Once the transition to the new facility in Athens is completed, the Sagami plant will continue to serve a key strategic role in Caterpillar’s global growth strategy as a high-tech component facility.
Caterpillar plans to break ground on the new facility in Athens in the first quarter of 2012. Initial production at the facility is expected to begin in late 2013, ramping up to full production over a five-year period. The company will use the website www.jointeamcaterpillar.com to fill the majority of open positions at the facility.