Hundreds of attendees, including Caterpillar executives, dealers, suppliers, customers and employees plus leaders from the state of Georgia, celebrated the grand opening of Caterpillar's facility in Athens, Georgia, on October 31. The state-of-the-art, 850,000 square-foot facility will produce small track-type tractors and mini hydraulic excavators.
"We are thrilled to call Georgia home to our newest Caterpillar production facility," said Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman. "This facility will be among the very best we have anywhere in the world. It will allow us to better serve our customers by improving delivery times."
Oberhelman, along with the Athens Facility Manager Todd Henry and Project Manager Teresa Curtis, cut the ribbon to open the facility. Building Construction Productions Division Vice President Mary Bell, Georgia governor Nathan Deal and county officials were also on hand.
"It was an absolutely fantastic day for Caterpillar, the State of Georgia and the local community," Henry said. "The team has worked so hard for the last 20 months. For us to accomplish the task of getting this facility built in less than a year and come in under budget is a fantastic accomplishment for this team and a testament to the strength of the team."
"Caterpillar's investment in Georgia showcases why companies want to do business in our state," said Governor Deal. "We have a solid business climate, a highly skilled workforce and logistics that provide what companies such as Caterpillar need to be successful. That success leads directly to opportunity and prosperity for Georgians."
The Athens facility will become Caterpillar's global source for small track-type tractors and will also provide mini hydraulic excavators for customers in North and South America and Europe. The first fully-assembled mini hydraulic excavators are rolling off the line this month, with plans to add additional models throughout 2014 and small track-type tractors in early 2015. The facility is part of Caterpillar's Building Construction Products Division, which is based in Cary, N.C.
"We appreciate the support we've received from the state and Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties," said Mary Bell, Caterpillar vice president with responsibility for the Building Construction Products Division. "This facility will play an important role in supporting Caterpillar's long-term strategic initiative to remain the global leader in our industry."
More than 300 employees have been hired at the facility so far. That number is anticipated to reach 1,400 as production continues to ramp up.
"It's a great opportunity to help start a facility. Rarely does this chance ever come along. Caterpillar is just a great company to work for, and it now has a home in Athens. I'm proud to work here," said Clay Durham, a manufacturing engineer.
Work at the new facility includes major fabrications, paint and final assembly for both products. These machines are currently made at Caterpillar's Sagami, Japan, facility. Once the transition to the new facility in Athens is completed, the Sagami facility will continue to support Caterpillar's global growth strategy as a high-tech component facility.