Touring Kansas on the Labor Day break this week, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran said he was able to visit a growing industry, one using cutting edge technology, an industry that is paying premium wages.
That’s what Moran took away from his Tuesday tour of Abilene West, Great Plains Manufacturing’s Land Pride Division facility west of Abilene.
Linda Salem, president and chief executive officer of Great Plains Manufacturing, said the Abilene plant is on the move.
“We are ready to hire more people now. We are ready to rev up production,” Salem said.
Needed are about 15 more employees: assembly workers, welders, fabricators and quality assurance positions.
There are currently 45 employees at the Abilene West facility.
“We value our employees here,” said Production Manager Norman Brien. “We have good employees. We treat them right. We pay them well.”
He said once the employees grow at Land Pride, they are employable anywhere else.
“With the level of technology that is in this plant, Kansans who work here are going to develop skills that are beneficial to them in the future,” Moran said. “It moves Kansas’ workforce in the direction of the latest in manufacturing techniques and technologies. Kubota’s presence in Kansas is an opportunity for us to highlight other businesses that may be interested. If Kubota’s here, others will be looking for places that Kubota found and they can find a workforce and the training and the advanced manufacturing skills.”
Moran said he wanted to make sure that Kansas develops a strong working relationship with Great Plains.
“We hear a lot today about their future, their future in Kansas, in Abilene,” Moran said. “I want them to know that they have a senator who is paying attention and trying to be helpful.”
James Hall, director of facilities for Great Plains Manufacturing, said ALCO’s former warehouse had been vacant since 2015. Hall announced in September 2018 that Great Plains Manufacturing’s Land Pride Division bought the 350,000 square foot facility.
One side of the warehouse now manufactures different attachments such as buckets, augers and trenchers.
The other half is working on the production of the SCL1000. The standup compact loader is manufactured exclusively at Abilene West. With a 36 inch width it can go through a gate. With a 24 horsepower turbo-charged engine, it can lift up to 1,000 pounds.
Great Plains Manufacturing, which started in Salina, has two facilities in Abilene, the West Facility at 2150 N.E. Eighth and one at 1100 N.W. Eighth Street.
Great Plains Ag is also expanding in Salina after purchasing the former Phillips Lighting plant. It will be manufacturing a SVL65 power unit.
“The company, both the ag division and Land Pride, is growing. Certainly being part of Kubota has helped us expand our business a great deal,” Salem said.
The production of power units is also new to Great Plains.
“It is entirely new to us; new facilities, new assembly lines and new ways of doing business,” she said. “Most of the Land Pride and ag division products are something this is pulled behind a tractor or in front of a skidsteer. They don’t power themselves.”
Kubota, a company based in Japan, bought Great Plans in 2016.
“Their market share is growing. The demand is growing ,” she said. “In Salina we will be bringing in a product that is made in Japan today so it could be manufactured closer to the market where it is most popular.”
Salem said the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow down Great Plains Manufacturing.
“Our business has never been stronger,” she said. “Orders have never been as large.”
She said people are staying home.
“They are investing in small tractors. They are investing in attachments that go on them and they are spending more time on their own land,” she said.
Also touring the facility were Abilene Mayor Chris Ostermann, Dickinson County Chairman Lynn Peterson and Mitch Robinson, executive director of Salina Economic Development Organization.
Contact Tim Horan at firstname.lastname@example.org.