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Archive for the ‘Seguin engine plant’ tag

Caterpillar breaks ground on Seguin, Texas, engine plant

I needed a night to sleep on whether I even wanted blog about Caterpillar’s new Seguin, Texas, engine plant, where ground was broken yesterday (there’s a video of it at this breathless “Happy Days Are Here Again” report from an Austin TV station). An uncle of mine spent his entire working career at the Mossville plant from whence all kinds of jobs are heading south to Texas, so I can’t work up much enthusiasm (revealing my pro-Peoria bias, which is odd, considering I haven’t lived there in nine years).

Of course it’s the biggest news since the Alamo in southeast Texas, but the local reporters conveniently omit the zero-sum nature of this move: the jobs coming to Texas are leaving somewhere else, and the folks losing their jobs in Illinois and South Carolina gotta eat too. Sorry to be a softie, but that bugs me.

Cold reality, though, is that Caterpillar would’ve gone out of business by now if the suits in the big offices hadn’t been able to make brutally efficient calls like this. The Detroit automakers could depend on a certain amount of Yankee patriotism to keep them in business, but Cat had no such luxury. Only way you stay on top in a highly competitive market machinery market is to build stuff that gets work done as promised, and to stay lean, agile and profitable. It’s true for high-tech companies in my Silicon Valley neighborhood and everywhere else.

(Here’s the link for Caterpillar’s job-recruitment site, though I doubt any Seguin openings are listed yet).

Something else the south Texas media could be forgiven for not knowing because they didn’t live through it like all us Central Illinois kids in the early ’80s: Plant expansions can be planned years in advance but getting them up and running is subject to current economic conditions. Caterpillar nearly got ruined by unfavorable currency exchange rates back then, and the result was an empty steel skeleton that stood outside the Morton parts plant for years on end. It’s not a done deal till the engines start coming off the lines.

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Tom Mangan posted at 8:00 am January 22nd, 2009 |

Fog of news, Caterpillar-style

Paul Gordon of the Peoria Journal Star pokes some holes in the notion that workers in the new Caterpillar engine plant in Seguin, Texas, will make $21 an hour, a number some local real estate type appears to have pulled out of thin air.

I researched the typical base wages for factory workers in Texas, the San Antonio area in particular.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the only production workers now making $21 an hour, or $44,000 a year, are supervisors – the bosses of those doing the assembly work.

Engine assemblers – which I expect many of these jobs would be – make an average of $16 an hour there, or about $33,270 a year. The BLS says there are currently only 540 engine assemblers in the San Antonio metropolitan area. Other assemblers make less.

Machinists – which likely will be among the jobs to be created at Seguin – make an average of $14.41 an hour, or just under $30,000 a year.

The average pay for all production workers in that area, the BLS says, is $12.79 an hour.

Cat flacks won’t say what they plan to pay. Gordon notes there’s at least a shred of likelihood that Cat is doing in private what it says in public: consolidating production in a single location mainly to improve efficiency.

For fun we should set up a pool to see who can guess how long it’ll take the folks responding to Paul’s post to blame everything on greedy corporate bean-counters or grasping union leaders.

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Tom Mangan posted at 12:24 am December 28th, 2008 |

Greenville, S.C., officials say they weren’t told of Cat engine plant plans

The paper in Greenville, S.C, says local economic development honchos had no idea they were on the short list of finalists for the new Caterpillar engine plant to be built in Seguin, Texas. Cat received a $10 million incentive from a fund Texas set up specifically for instances where several states were competing for the same facility.

It does seem, shall we say, peculiar that Cat seems to have told the folks in Texas that Greenville was on the table but doesn’t seem to have mentioned it to, you know, the folks running the town where they might have actually built the plant.

But get this: The Austin American-Statesman says next to nobody in Seguin knew they had won the plant till Thursday’s announcement was aired.

Of course the job of local officials is to provide tax breaks and keep their yaps shut, except when asking “how high?” when told to jump, so everything is as it should be, I suppose.

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Tom Mangan posted at 11:21 pm December 19th, 2008 |

Cat moving 1,400 jobs to Texas from Illinois, South Carolina

UPDATE: Paul Gordon at the Journal Star reports on yesterday’s layoff news, etc.

The layoff is not connected with Caterpillar’s earlier announced decision to cease making on-highway truck engines, or to an announcement by the governor of Texas on Thursday that Caterpillar is going to build a small-engine plant in that state, transferring some work from Mossville, a Caterpillar spokesman said.

Naturally the UAW is skeptical, and as much as this “move 1,400 jobs somewhere else for fun and profit” vibe irks me, one thing must be said: The Texas project has been in the works for months and nobody imagined the economy would’ve turned this ugly by now. The coincidence makes Cat look like Scrooge painted yellow this morning, but hey, coincidences do happen.

(Some part of me pities the Texans who sold their souls and abandoned their pride to get this plant. Because Texans are such a prideful bunch.)

Last night’s post:

On the same day that 800-plus got pink-slip notices from the Mossville engine plant, word came out about a new engine plant Caterpillar is planning. It moves 1,400 jobs from Illinois and and South Carolina to a town east of San Antonio. From the Austin American-Statesman:

Caterpillar Inc., a heavy-equipment giant, is consolidating its assembly, paint and testing operations from Illinois and South Carolina to Seguin. On the economic development scorecard, the move counts as a win for Texas against Mexico and South Carolina, both of which were also competing for the facility.

“The location really just fits our long-term strategic plans,” said Kate Kenny, a spokeswoman for Caterpillar. “About 70 percent of the engines that will be manufactured there will be exported, and Seguin gives us great access to ports and interstates and other hubs.”

Seguin is on Interstate 10 and near Interstate 35, and it is about 30 miles northeast of San Antonio and about 50 miles south of Austin. The ports of Houston and Corpus Christi are about an equal distance away. And when construction of Texas 130 is completed, the city will mark one end of the highway.

The state’s offering is the biggest Texas Enterprise Fund investment this year. In previous years, the fund has granted $50 million to companies such as Texas Instruments. The Texas Enterprise Fund was created in 2003 at the urging of Gov. Rick Perry and was funded through the Texas Legislature in 2005 and 2007.

This item says it’ll generate $170 million in capital investment. Well, at least they’re not pouring it into credit default swaps. Next on my to-do list: see how many millions Texas will give me to move my blog headquarters to a flat above an ultra-hip Austin watering hole. I love that song about going home with the armadillo.

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Tom Mangan posted at 12:07 am December 19th, 2008 |