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5-liter engine will spur hiring in Columbus

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Cummins Inc. will begin hiring later this year in preparation for the company’s plans to build diesel engines in Columbus for the light-duty Nissan Titan pickup truck.

Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger talked about production of the engine in an interview leading up to today’s annual shareholders meeting.

“There will be some ramping up this year because we are going into production in the fourth quarter,” he said.

The ISV diesel engine will be a 5.0-liter V8 turbo, capable of delivering more than 300 horsepower.

Production will begin in the fourth quarter with specialty engines, such as those for school buses, commercial vans, delivery trucks and small cargo haulers.

Linebarger said the volume for those vehicles is lower than for pickup trucks. But employees will be needed this year for that launch and to meet the 2015 launch for the Nissan Titan engine.

When the Nissan Titan Truck partnership was announced in August, it was projected to eventually add up to 500 jobs at the Columbus Engine Plant, where today’s shareholders meeting will be conducted.

Linebarger said he could not say specifically when or how many new employees might be hired, since it depends on production needs of its customers.

Distribution headquarters

Linebarger plans to brief shareholders on the company’s plans to develop a distribution headquarters in downtown Indianapolis, while retaining the company’s strong commitment to Columbus, where its headquarters and the bulk of its Indiana manufacturing plants operate.

The planned $30 million facility in Indianapolis, on the former Market Square Arena site, will house the company’s global distribution business headquarters.

Linebarger said the success of the distribution business spurred the need for the headquarters and the attractiveness of Indianapolis led to its selection.

“We launched distribution as a separate business back in the early 2000s; and if you look at the success over that time, it has been remarkable,” Linebarger said. “The company has always had a fantastic distribution side, but it’s only been in the last 10 years that it has been part of our financial growth.”

The change to a distribution network, as opposed to a group of individual businesses, was in response to the changing needs of customers, he said.

“There are very few customers that operate in one part of the country or even in one country, and so our distribution system needs to operate more like a system,” Linebarger said. “We began to acquire companies or opened them ourselves where we didn’t have distributors.”

Indianapolis was chosen because it has become an attractive area among employees and is convenient to Columbus. Linebarger said the state’s biggest city is a great place to recruit.

“We are finding that employees who join the company, especially younger professionals, like living in Indianapolis,” Linebarger said. “Indianapolis is trying to do some revitalization in some of their neighborhoods. I think that East Market Square Arena area is an opportunity for us to help as the city stretches east to revitalize.”

Many Cummins employees who work and live in Indianapolis now also spend two or three days a week in Columbus, and that will continue, he said.

“If you are commuting, three days a week down here is very doable,” Linebarger said.

Columbus commitment

He emphasized that Cummins’ commitment to Columbus remains strong.

“We are going to keep our headquarters in Columbus,” Linebarger said. “This is our largest location for employees, and we’ve added more than 2,000 employees here in the last five years.”

The increase of the company’s footprint, both in the United States and worldwide, only serves to strengthen its prospects in Columbus, Linebarger said.

“Columbus is a part of the heritage of our company,” Linebarger said.

“We have a lot of technical talent here, purchasing people here and a communication network here because we need more people to coordinate our message around the world. So as we grow globally, we will continue to add people in Columbus.”

Linebarger credits the city’s leaders over the years for helping develop a welcoming, diverse community, with a thriving downtown that fits the Cummins model.

“If you want to be a vital city, you need to open yourself up to diversity and make sure you are keeping downtown moving,” Linebarger said. “We’ve been a part of it, but I would say the city leaders have been terrific here and are the driving force.”

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