By 2020, Abilene West will be up and running, making equipment with 40 employees, said Jesse Goodman, senior plant manager for Land Pride, at the annual meeting of the Dickinson County Economic Development Corporation last week.
Land Pride, Division of Great Plains Manufacturing, is expanding in the 350,000-square-foot building now known as Abilene West.
The annual meeting of the DCEDC was held in the building, which will manufacture new equipment.
“Year to date, we have spent about $8.4 million just in equipment in this building,” Goodman said.
He said the Land Pride building on Eighth Street is 190,000 square feet, thus 540,000 square feet is available for use in Abilene.
“It’s quite an investment here,” he said.
Abilene West will be making products that Land Pride does not make anywhere else.
“We are not going to be moving product out of another facility just to fill this building,” he said.
He said recruiting the manpower could be a challenge.
“That is one of the biggest hurdles for us to overcome,” he said.
There are 14 employees working at Abilene West. Some were working the night of the annual meeting.
The company will have two Mazak fiber lasers.
“Fiber laser technology is fairly new,” Goodman said. “It allows us to make very small quantities very quickly.”
A robotic welder is in place and another is going to be in place next month.
“We have equipment coming in all the time,” Goodman said.
He said another machine can scan a bar code, bring in the needed tools and show an operator how they need to load the part into the machine.
“With a piece of equipment like this, we can take an employee that maybe doesn’t have any fabrication experience and maybe they are in high school and when they graduate they come to our facility and within a couple weeks they would be able to run that equipment and make most parts for us,” Goodman said.
“Traditionally, it takes six to eight months of in-depth training. You have to know geometry. You have to know metals a lot more.”
There are also several hand welding bays.
Paint oven installed
The paint oven is in place but parts are still being installed.
“We still have a lot we want to accomplish in 2019. The paint system installation will, hopefully, be complete,” Goodman said.
He said getting the paint system complete, hopefully in December, is important.
“Until we get the paint system going, it’s not impossible but very difficult to make finished assembled product here because we have to paint it someplace else and transport it,” he said.
Offices and break rooms will be installed in the west end of the building.
Contact Tim Horan at email@example.com.