Upfront: Encouraging signs

By Steve Noe

Starting with my May 18 trip to Grand Rapids, Mich., to witness the grand reopening of the headquarters of Kawasaki Engines, I’m highly encouraged by the noticeable spike in investment in this industry. I don’t want to steal my own thunder by going into too much detail here about the newly renovated digs for Kawasaki Engines (see my story on pages 12-13), but the highlight is a new state-of-the-art research and development lab.

Shortly upon my return from that trip, I learned that another major small-engine manufacturer, Briggs & Stratton Corporation, recently opened its own state-of-the-art lab — the Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) lab (see the story on pages 14-15).

American LandMaster, a Fort Wayne, Ind.-headquartered manufacturer, designer and distributor of off-road utility vehicles, recently announced plans to invest more than $4 million to lease and equip a new facility in the Hoosier state that will result in the creation of up to 67 new jobs by 2020 (see story on page 15).

On June 8, Walbro LLC celebrated the opening of a new aluminum die casting facility in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony (see story on page 50). The new facility, which is co-located with Walbro’s Engine Management plant in Los Mochis, will share management, supply chain and administrative services with the existing plant. Initially, the plant will manufacture flywheels for small engines in the first two installed die casting centers, but plans are already in place to add six additional die casting machines due to strong customer interest. The facility will employ 60-70 additional workers at full capacity.

And similar positive news continued to pour in at a rapid rate this month, with me running out of both time and space to include it in the “Industry News” section, so I’ll touch on some more of it here.

Ariens Company recently celebrated the grand opening of its new concept store, Brillion Power Equipment, with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony. As you may recall reading about in April 2017 OPE, Ariens Company announced in February the purchase of a vacant building across the street from its headquarters in Brillion, Wis., and converted it into a fully operational concept store. The store will be independently operated by Mike Buboltz, an Ariens and Gravely dealer who owns Hardware Plus in downtown Brillion, and it will serve many purposes.

“The store will be used to demonstrate best-in-class dealership practices, test merchandising concepts that might be offered to our network of dealers, and learn more about overall customer experience,” said Dan Ariens, chairman and CEO of the Ariens Company.

On June 2, Doosan Bobcat North America announced the completion of an impressive $9.5-million expansion of its company headquarters in West Fargo, N.D. The expansion doubles the square footage and employee capacity of the original building, which was built in 2000.

“Doosan Bobcat is a growing company that continues to make investments in its people,” said Rich Goldsbury, president of Doosan Bobcat North America. “Creating an innovative environment helps us attract and retain team members who are focused on bringing new ideas and solutions to the marketplace faster.”

As you can see, a lot of ribbon cutting is taking place in the industry, which is encouraging news for all of us.

Steve Noe
OPE Senior Editor Steve Noe