Cummins profits from move to stick with project

Patience and perseverance are two qualities Cummins Inc. exhibited during a challenging time.

The engine company and the Columbus community are benefiting greatly from Cummins’ decision to not give up on its light-duty diesel engine project after losing a potential customer more than five years ago.

Cummins has moved engine production back to the Columbus Engine Plant for the first time since 2002, as it begins building a 5-liter V8 Cummins Turbo Diesel for the 2016 Nissan Titan XD full-size pickup.

Equally important is the addition of jobs — a morale boost for the community and also more local income taxes for local government.

About 150 people have been hired for the engine project since it was announced in August 2013, bringing the total number of people working on the project to about 450. Cummins officials expect that number to eventually exceed 600 — meaning at least another 150 people will be hired.

The company’s patience and perseverance had been put to the test. First the company removed engine production from the Columbus Engine Plant in 2002, transferring assembly of heavy-duty diesel engines to a more modern facility in Jamestown, New York.

That sad news seemed to be alleviated in 2006 when Cummins announced plans to produce light-duty diesel engines for DaimlerChrysler at the Columbus Engine Plant, with a commitment to invest $250 million and create at least 600 jobs. The engine was planned for the 1500 version of the Ram.

The agreement died when Chrysler filed for bankruptcy in 2009. When it emerged, Chrysler used an engine from parent Fiat SpA for its light-duty diesel truck.

Instead of giving up on its light-duty diesel project — in which a lot of time, energy and money had been invested — Cummins kept contacting automakers in search of a partner. What resulted was the deal with Nissan.

Cummins’ steadfast belief in the light-duty diesel project and dogged pursuit of a new partner is impressive. It speaks volumes about leadership at the Columbus-based, global, Fortune 500 company.

Wise choices have guided the company for nearly 100 years. Decisions regarding the light-duty diesel are another example of that.