Doosan Bobcat Inc. is spending $26 million to expand its construction equipment factory in Litchfield, officials said, as the firm opened a new global collaboration center in downtown Minneapolis.
The modernization and addition of new paint lines at Litchfield — a town of 6,700 about 65 miles west of Minneapolis — will triple the size of the plant to nearly 200,000 square feet and increase the number of workers from 100 to 300 over three years, the company announced Wednesday.
Construction already has begun and is expected to be done by September 2020. Beyond that, “there will be millions more in new equipment, so this could easily” be a $30 million project when done, said Doosan Bobcat CEO Scott Park, who flew into Minneapolis from Seoul to talk about the company’s latest growth investments.
Park, in Minneapolis for the $2 million global collaboration center opening, will visit Litchfield employees and local officials there on Thursday.
The Minnesota additions come without state tax incentives or aid, Bobcat officials said.
Instead, they are part of a rapid growth spree driven by high demand for the Bobcat line of compact equipment and attachments, officials said.
Sales have been growing so fast that the Litchfield factory “is bursting at the seams,” Park said in the 10,600-square-foot center inside the Fifth Street Towers in Minneapolis. “We had no choice but to expand. We really are adding a whole new factory there. These investments demonstrate our commitment to our presence in Minnesota, which is a major manufacturing hub and now a center for our global operations.”
The Litchfield factory now makes buckets, augers, snowplow and other attachments that go on Bobcat loaders and excavators sold across North America.
“We are very excited about this expansion. They are bringing more jobs and more people to our community,” said Litchfield Mayor Keith Johnson. “In addition to the new [line] workers in the plant, they will have engineers and professionals, and we are looking forward to having them come. They will bring in people here for jobs from probably a 60-mile radius.”
If the 200 workers are hired, Johnson said Doosan Bobcat would be larger than Minnesota Rubber and Plastics, with about 180 workers; Monroe Towmaster Trailers with 170; Custom Products of Litchfield with 160; and the cheese-making dairy cooperative First District Association, with 166 workers.
The 7,000-employee company, owned by Korea’s Doosan Group, invests about $100 million a year in its factories and production lines, including recent projects in India, China, North Carolina and North Dakota, Park said.
The Minnesota investments make sense, he said. The state “is a place that really works for us” and should help handle growth.
Doosan Bobcat grew by $800 million in sales the past two years, Park said.
“My personal target is to run this to a $7 billion [operation] in five years,” he said, from $3.8 billion this year.
Growth will be helped, Park said, as Bobcat expands into new product lines such as extra-small articulated loaders and tractors aimed at individual landowners, gardeners and sole proprietors who need rugged but tight-turning work machines that can get through small spaces without damaging soil. The existing product lines are mainly marketed to contractors, small farmers and the like.
Expanding the Litchfield factory should help with that future growth, Park said. Another step toward growth required building the company’s new collaboration center.
Alvaro Pacini will oversee the center, which will eventually have 50 employees.
Until recently, Pacini was region president of Doosan Bobcat’s European markets and lived in the Czech Republic. In June, he was named senior vice president of global procurement and last month relocated to Minneapolis.
The new Fifth Street Towers center sports walls and chairs decked in Bobcat’s characteristic shock of reddish orange color and its white cat face logo.
Bobcat announced in July that it would open the new collaboration center as a way to host more global meetings with international customers and to accelerate innovation among far-flung team members.
Bobcat’s expanded downtown site, designed by Fargo’s Shultz & Associates Architects, was selected because of its proximity to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Bobcat’s facilities in Minnesota and North Dakota, and to various recruiting venues, Pacini said.
Bobcat regularly works with about 700 product dealers around North America who can use the center to work on supply, quality, training, technology and design.
The downtown site can accommodate 50 visitors plus staffers. The space features Pacini’s new workspace, six video-equipped conference rooms, 40 workstations, a hospitality section and staff huddle areas.
Dee DePass • 612-673-7725