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Wendy Reuer, Published July 01 2013

Despite $50 million expansion, Caterpillar adds no new jobs in West Fargo

WEST FARGO – Caterpillar won’t be immediately adding another 250 jobs at its new 225,000-square-foot facility here – as it planned when it announced the expansion in 2011 – but the company said it still hopes to do so soon at a grand opening on Monday.

At the $50 million facility’s ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, officials said the new building will put the company’s roughly 300 employees under one roof. Caterpillar previously leased several buildings, mostly warehouses in the West Fargo and Fargo area. Equipment and employees will now all work under one roof, said Rachel Potts, Caterpillar spokeswoman.

Potts said the worldwide mining industry is in a decline, lowering demand for products made at the West Fargo facility. Since the demand is down, she said, Caterpillar hasn’t hired more at its expanded plant, which has the capacity for 550 workers.

The new facility at 1262 Main Ave. W. has a state-of-the-art metallurgical lab and allows Caterpillar to expand its high-tech machining and metal additive processes, Greg Folley, Caterpillar vice president, said Monday.

Mining equipment such as transmission and torque converter assemblies are produced at the West Fargo plant, where the company manufactures and remanufactures parts.

Remanufacturing is a green process of repairing and refurnishing old or out of service machinery, Caterpillar officials said.

Folley said about 60 percent of the mining equipment produced in West Fargo will be exported around the world.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Monday that the facility was a testament to the city’s ability to attract manufacturing companies, and he expects similar moves to happen soon.

“This town has grown steadily from its very founding, it has just taken off,” Dalrymple said, adding that the company “could have gone anywhere in the United States.”

Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Ill., acquired the North Dakota assets of Gremada Industries Inc., in 2008. Gremada was founded in 1962 by the sons of Francis Butler, then the president of Butler Machinery, a Caterpillar equipment dealer.

The following year, the company began refurbishing parts for Caterpillar.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530