AGCO announces $42m expansion
JACKSON -- AGCO Operations broke ground Tuesday on a new $42 million expansion project at its manufacturing facility in Jackson, marking a second major expansion in as many years for the manufacturers of Massey Ferguson and Challenger row crop tractors and Challenger track tractors, as well as application equipment.
"It's just exciting to see us come to the next milestone for our operation, where we can be expanding again," said Eric Fisher, AGCO director of operations in Jackson, adding that the bulk of the latest investment will be in technology.
"We intend to be the leader in terms of product quality, and when you lead, you need to stay in the forefront of technology," he added.
Over the course of the next three years, AGCO will complete a seven-phase expansion impacting all areas of the Jackson operations. Topping the list is a 30,000-square-foot expansion of the component manufacturing area. Expected to be completed this fall, the addition will allow AGCO to increase capacity and improve efficiency in work flow through assembly stations.
Both the tractor assembly and application equipment assembly lines will be expanded during the process, and a robotic welder and sheet laser will also be added to improve productivity. An in-line paint system will be added to the application assembly line, along with cutting-edge testing capability of finished products.
Once the work is complete, AGCO estimates production capacity will increase by 25 percent on both the tractor and sprayer assembly lines.
Fisher said the 2011 expansion took AGCO Operations in Jackson to "a new plateau" with a product lineup that is the "best it's ever been."
"The global need for our type of equipment is there and increasing," he said Wednesday afternoon. "The pressures are on for feeding the world, and AGCO, specifically the Jackson operations, are going to be a big part of the answer for that."
Fisher said orders for Massey Ferguson and Challenger tractors, as well as spraying equipment are "extremely strong."
"We really have one of the largest backlogs we've ever had, and these are orders from around the globe," he said. "We definitely need to increase our capacity here to be more responsive to the marketplace."
News of the expansion is good not just for AGCO, but for the city of Jackson and all of Jackson County.
"We've been very fortunate in Jackson to have AGCO expanding over the last several years," said Sue Pirsig, Jackson Economic Development Corp. coordinator. "We're extremely pleased that they continue to invest in the community."
"We're happy to work with AGCO, and the big thing is that they're happy with us, and they're willing to advance their technology and stay with us in Jackson," added Jackson Mayor Wayne Walter. "They're going to be adding a few more jobs, which is always good."
Walter and Jackson County Coordinator Jan Fransen were both present for Tuesday's "low-key" groundbreaking.
"We're just thrilled that they're continuing to grow in Jackson and Jackson County," Fransen said. "It means more jobs and continued growth. Seeing a company thrive like AGCO is very exciting."
With the continued growth at AGCO, the city is experiencing a bit of a housing crunch.
"Where we are short is for the guys that are working the line at AGCO," Walter said, adding that the city has been working with the Southwest Minnesota Housing Project to add townhomes in the community. The city has purchased land from the Jackson Economic Development Corporation (JEDC), with plans to construct 48 units on Jackson's north side, across from the golf course.
"We're going through the process to see if we can get some grants," Walter said.
In addition to the townhome project, Jackson is offering a discount on lots in the Sunset View and West Ridge additions for new residents interested in building homes.
Fisher said AGCO continues to expand its workforce. Positions are still available as a result of the last expansion, and 75 new, permanent jobs will be created over the course of the next three-year expansion.
"We would encourage anybody that's interested to check out the career opportunities here at AGCO," Fisher said, adding that job postings can be found on the company's website, www.agcocorp.com.
The company's latest announcement follows a $17 million expansion completed in June 2012, which added manufacturing space for production of Massey Ferguson tractors, as well as the creation of an Intivity Center -- a visitor center that tells the AGCO story -- complete with a gift shop and views of the manufacturing lines. That expansion resulted in the addition of more than 200 jobs at the Jackson AGCO campus, bringing the total workforce to approximately 1,050.
AGCO's roots in Jackson began in 1963 with the founding of Ag-Chem Equipment Co., a distributor of spraying equipment. Ag-Chem was purchased by AGCO in 2001.
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.