With the turn of shovels, Cummins Inc. leaders and city officials broke ground Monday on a new technical and office center that will serve as the company’s global headquarters for its high-horsepower division.
The two-story, 89,350-square-foot office building will bring together engineers from several Cummins locations, including Columbus, and bridge the gap between the design, testing and production of current and future high-horsepower products.
Construction soon will be underway on the office facility, which will extend from the existing plant north toward East Fourth Street and will divide the main parking lot into smaller parking areas.
The number of employees housed in the tech center could reach more than 600 when the project is completed next year.
Ed Pence, vice president and general manager of Cummins high-horsepower engine business, said the new facility will play a vital role in the company’s future and in its ability to meet the needs of its customers.
Pence has worked for Cummins since 1981 and earned his most recent job title in February.
“The new tech center will be home to all of the high-horsepower engineering team in southern Indiana,” Pence said. “This center of technical excellence will allow us to rapidly launch new products and services that will help differentiate us from the competition.”
One of those products is the QSK95, or Hedgehog, engine, which was launched and soon will be manufactured at Seymour Engine Plant. The engine is the largest produced by Cummins. It is made to power locomotives, ships, and mining and drilling equipment as well as generate electricity.
“For the first time in southern Indiana, our engineers will be closer in proximity to the test cells and larger lab areas allowing us to streamline and efficiently manage our technical work,” Pence said.
Jim Trueblood, vice president of high-horsepower engineering for Cummins, said he has been looking forward to the groundbreaking for some time now.
He has been employed with the company since 1978 and will lead the team of people moving into the tech center, joining with those already working in Seymour.
“As we have grown the high-horsepower business, we’ve grown to the point where we have engineers in three different locations and probably even more,” Trueblood said. “To be close to the production of the engine is very important from an engineering perspective. To have everyone co-located together is going to be a real improvement for us.”
In order to be successful, Trueblood said the company must continue to improve everything it does and to attract and retain the best talent.
“That’s what this new tech center is going to allow us to do,” he said. “Our employees will benefit from a workplace that is more conducive to collaboration and teamwork. Our customers will benefit from the innovation that will make us better and faster and first to market, and our community will benefit from new investments and potentially new high-tech jobs.”
Although many businesses have continued to struggle in the current economic climate, Pence said Cummins has remained in a strong financial position. Last year, Cummins posted revenues of more than $17 billion. It was the second-best year for performance in company history, he added.
Operating in 190 countries, the company also set a record by launching more than 70 new products last year.
“This is the right time for us to be making this investment here,” he said of the tech center.
Not only will the tech center help the company operate more efficiently, it will stand out architecturally, improving the look of the industrial site, Pence added. It will incorporate many environmentally friendly features, such as passive solar management for daylight control and sustainable design elements for energy management.
Pence said Cummins continues to invest heavily in new products for future growth and is receiving a lot of interest and demand in its high-horsepower engines.
“There is a lot of excitement and anticipation here in Seymour,” he said. “We are excited about this emerging as the focal point of the high-horsepower engine business anywhere in the world with the largest team of employees.”
Company officials are optimistic about the future, Pence added.
“The Seymour Engine Plant and Seymour Technical Center will represent one of the most visible examples of that,” he said.
But the investment, which is around $70 million, is not only good for Cummins and its customers, it’s a benefit to the entire community, said Mayor Craig Luedeman, who attended the groundbreaking with several members of the Seymour City Council.
Luedeman called the tech center a huge milestone for Cummins and for the city.
“I don’t know what else to compare it to,” he said. “This tech center puts Seymour on the map, and the public will begin to see that.”
The tech center along with past expansion projects has the opportunity to help the city grow by bringing in more housing for new employees and other new businesses, including restaurants
and retail stores, Luede-man said.
He also said it will increase Seymour’s cultural diversity because of the strong presence of Cummins in England, China, India and other global markets.
“It has a way of spurring new development, and we’re just happy to be a part of it,” Luedeman said.