Less than four years after the first JCB 3CX backhoe rolled off the assembly line at the British equipment maker’s Savannah, Georgia-based North American headquarters, the company has announced that it has ceased backhoe production at the plant in order to make room for production of the 505-20TC compact telehandler.
JCB says installation of the new telehandler production line has already begun at the plant, which employs 600 workers, and that it expects full-rate production to begin in September. Though it has manufactured the 3CX backhoe since November 2014, the Savannah plant’s primary manufacturing responsibility is and will remain skid-steer and compact track loaders. Thus, the company expects no significant impact to its Savannah employment as a result of the change.
“JCB is the most popular telehandler brand in North America, and our new telehandler production line will allow us to be more responsive to local customers and win even more business in the future,” says JCB North America president and CEO Richard Fox-Marrs in a statement.
Despite the company’s billing as the “world’s leading backhoe manufacturer,” Fox-Marrs admits that the switch at the Savannah facility is a response to higher demand for the company’s telehandlers in North America than it has seen for backhoes.
He described the move as allowing “our people to more directly contribute to the success and growth of a product that is in high demand in this market.”
The company says it will move the Savannah’s plant’s backhoe production to its backhoe manufacturing facility in the U.K. The Savannah facility will continue making at least one backhoe, however. JCB says production of the High Mobility Engineer Excavator—an armored, high-speed backhoe the company produces as part of a $206 million contract with the U.S. Army—will continue in Savannah along with production of the Light Capacity Rough Terrain Forklift, a military telehandler.
Despite moving backhoe manufacturing back to the U.K., JCB says it will continue offering seven JCB backhoe models in North America.
The company also announced that it plans to build a new dedicated parts warehouse and distribution facility in Miami. The warehouse would free up space in Savannah to manufacture more “high-value construction machines,” JCB says. In addition, the Miami warehouse would be able to “accommodate a significantly larger parts inventory than currently stocked in Savannah,” the company says, “enableing faster supply of parts to JCB customers through the United States, Canada and Latin America.”