Terex Utilities building new plant on 55 acres in South Dakota

Me Photo Headshot
An architectural rendering of the future Terex Utilities plant in Watertown, South Dakota.An architectural rendering of the future Terex Utilities plant in Watertown, South Dakota.

Terex Utilities plans to consolidate its Watertown, South Dakota, manufacturing operations into one new facility on 55 acres where it will house assembly, fiberglass, paint and installation operations for its aerial devices, digger derricks and auger drills.

Currently, these operations are spread among 10 locations in the area, having been added over the years. The plant will eventually bring all of those operations under one roof.

Terex says the new plant, to be completed by the end of 2019, will allow the company to increase production and make operations more efficient and faster, as well as provide a better workplace for employees.

Clint Weber, Terex vice president and general manager, said at the April 17 ground-breaking ceremony that the company moved operations to South Dakota more than 40 years ago, and it plans to stay. He said the new plant will enable the company to increase production to meet growing product demand, and it will help attract and retain employees.

“This investment will allow the company to respond to customer needs with a new facility that simplifies operations, drives better performance and provides a work environment that will not only attract top talent, but will be a place where people can build long-term careers in manufacturing,” says President and CEO John Garrison.

The plant will also include advanced manufacturing technologies and automation. “For example, an LED lighting system will integrate Bluetooth and LED pulse signal systems to allow us to accurately track flow of parts through production,” Weber said.

Terex Utilities, a subsidiary of Terex Corporation, had 567 employees at its Watertown operations as of May 2017, according to Watertown Development Company, a private, nonprofit economic development corporation in the area. It also has a plant in Huron, South Dakota, about 90 miles from the new plant. The company declined to comment on employment specifics for the new plant. It also declined to release information on the plant’s construction cost.

Terex Corporation has been simplifying and consolidating its operations around the world, including plans to sell its Betim, Brazil, utilities business. Its goal is to focus on its aerial platforms, cranes and material processing. It has sold its underperforming construction businesses. The company noted in its 2017 annual report that it had made more than 50 acquisitions over two decades, resulting in manufacturing complexity and duplication. In recent years, it has simplified and reduced its manufacturing footprint by 2.6 million square feet without reducing revenue potential, the report said.

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard said during the ground-breaking ceremony that his state competed with four others for Terex’s new plant. South Dakota beat out Oklahoma, Indiana, South Carolina and Texas, which he attributed to the incentives the state and city of Watertown offered. The incentives included tax breaks, a multi-million loan and funding to buy some nearby property, he told KXLG radio station.

“That would have been a big loss,” he said, if the company had moved.

Garrison told the station the decision to stay boiled down to the entire incentives package, the community, which it has been in for more than 40 years, and the local employees.

“We really didn’t want to leave,” he told the station, “because we’ve got a great workforce here.”