Great Plains Mfg. in Salina is growing again, and in the process is sparing its hometown what could have been a hard hit with the loss of Signify (originally Philips Lighting), a 50-year old company that had announced plans to close in the second quarter of 2021.
Great Plains, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kubota North America Corp., will purchase the Signify building when it becomes available in July 2021 and spend about $43 million to renovate the 750,000-square-foot facility, and another $10 million in startup costs.
Operations will be launched by the end of 2021, starting with production of Kubota’s compact track loaders, the SVL65. That product is currently manufactured in Japan.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates our continued commitment to American’s heartland and especially to our city of Salina, Kan., where we have proudly done business for more than 44 years,” Linda Salem, president and CEO of Great Plains, said at the announcement ceremony. “We will plan to add approximately 130 new manufacturing jobs to our already 1,450-strong Kansan employee base as we scale up our operations to meet the growing demand for Kubota equipment.”
The most recent announcement comes as Great Plains has made a series of investments that have expanded its footprint across throughout north-central Kansas over several years, most recently with the purchase of a 350,000-square foot facility in Abilene that produces Kubota and Land Pride branded projects.
As Kubota continues on a high-growth trajectory, the company is dedicated to the further expansion of its diverse product offerings, performance-focused farming, construction, utility vehicle and turf equipment.
“Increasing the capacity of our operations in Kansas will enable us to achieve even greater operational efficiencies, expand our footprint in the Midwest, enhance our logistic capabilities to better service new and existing markets, and continue on our path to becoming a leading company within our industry,” according to Haruyuki (Harry) Yoshida, president and CEO of Kubota North America and Kubota Tractor, in a press release.
Eric Brown, president of the Salina Chamber of Commerce, says the Kubota investment is significant to the city.
“It’s exciting that Kubota has placed trust in Great Plains to bring a new product line to Salina and to the American national market,” he says. “Great Plains started out in manufacturing machinery for the agricultural market and added the lawn and landscape business with its Land Pride division. This expansion adds the construction field to its manufacturing portfolio.”
He says Great Plains worked with the State of Kansas, particularly the Department of Commerce, the Chamber of Commerce and the city of Salina to make the expansion happen.
“Salina is continuing to grow in spite of the stress that COVID-19 has brought about,” Brown says. “Salina is a great community and we are proud to see great companies like Great Plains choosing to grow here. We are continuing to see our downtown renovation project grow and become a regional hub for dining and shopping.”
He says the expansion at Great Plains is also good news because it softens the blow of losing Phillips Lighting.
“It offers an opportunity for the employees that are losing their jobs to retrain or hone their skill set to apply for the new jobs that are being created with this expansion,” he says. “We are working with the Department of Commerce on industrial training and re-training to be ready to apply for those jobs.”
The Salina announcement is the latest in a series of Midwest investments, including the most recent Great Plains’ purchase of a 350,000 sq. ft. Abilene production facility, which opened for operations earlier this year and further expands operations there to produce Kubota and Land Pride branded products.
Additionally, in 2019, Kubota announced the grand opening of its new North American Distribution Center in Logistics Park Kansas City located in Edgerton, Kansas. The NADC continues to process shipments from Asia and Europe, in addition to goods from suppliers in North America, with more capacity and accelerated shipping speed for the timely delivery of Kubota parts and equipment to dealers and customers throughout the U.S. and Canada.
This article includes information supplied by the Kubota Newsroom.