Kawasaki Engines, a division of Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A., recently hired a new director of research and development (R&D) and announced three promotions.
The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based division hired Dave Sugden as director of R&D, as well as promoted Troy Smith from applications engineering supervisor to manager of R&D testing, applications and EFI; J.J. Zeilstra from manager of government relations to manager of new development and government relations; and Matt Ulmenstine from applications engineer to applications engineering supervisor.
“These personnel moves put Kawasaki in the best position to continue to meet our growth objectives, and they signal the company’s continued interest in maintaining both internal cohesion and coordinated integration with our OEM customers,” said Nelson Wilner, vice president, Kawasaki Engines. “We are taking full advantage of our new facility capabilities and have been expanding development activities and growing our staff to be well positioned for anticipating OEM needs. In essence, we’ve supercharged our efforts as we plan for both the near- and long-term requirements.”
An industry veteran, Sugden possesses 27 years of product development experience, most recently as director of product design and improvement at Scag Power Equipment. He will manage the growing R&D function at Kawasaki that has recently seen its staffing increase significantly, with new additions in technology, calibration, electrical and testing, as well as supporting administrative personnel.
Sugden has a wide range of pertinent experience, including involvement in the establishment of testing methods and procedures, oversight of compliance with ANSI standards and CPSC regulations, and involvement with various manufacturing methods. He has also designed an R&D facility and holds 15 patents. His past work with suppliers and partners, as well as his distribution and sales channel exposure provide an ideal fit for Kawasaki’s unified teamwork approach.
The promotions of Smith and Zeilstra further enhance the group’s management team. Smith’s role will focus on guidance and technical direction for a team consisting of applications engineers, testing technicians, calibration engineers, and an EFI supervisor. Zeilstra will oversee the design engineers and design technicians, electrical engineers, and a government relations specialist. The combined Kawasaki experience of the two new managers ensures a smooth transition as the company broadens its R&D capabilities.
The Engines Division’s recently completed renovation of its headquarters facility was partially driven by the company’s desire to migrate its R&D capabilities to Grand Rapids from its former location adjacent to the engine building plant in Maryville, Mo. The renovated 200,000-square-foot building gives the R&D function a larger footprint for expansion, and it brings the varied components of the company into closer proximity, helping to achieve greater synergies between departments.
Kawasaki Engines distributes gasoline engines for landscape, industrial and consumer markets. It sells to and services customers through a network of more than 40 OEMs, 15 distributors, and more than 7,500 independent dealers throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, select countries in Central and South America, and the U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific, including Guam.