Grand Rapids manufacturer plans to expand, hire 100-200 workers

Investments could help Yanmar double production and lead to the creation of new jobs.

A new paint system will be installed as part of the expansion Yanmar announced at its Grand Rapids production facility Monday. This will free up space that will be outfitted with robotic weld cells and cutting tables.
Contributed / Yanmar Compact Equipment North America
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GRAND RAPIDS — Yanmar Compact Equipment North America announced Monday it will break ground this spring on a 32,000-square-foot expansion of its existing plant, with hopes to hire 100-200 more workers in the next five years.

The company, which acquired ASV, a maker of tracked equipment in 2019, currently employs about 240 people in Grand Rapids. The expansion likely will take a year to complete.

The company already is in hiring mode, according to Ben Karkela, a communications specialist for ASV Holdings Inc.

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"We are currently looking to fill a number of positions. It's been tricky to get people to move up to this area up here," he said of ongoing recruiting efforts. The size of the Japanese company's Grand Rapids workforce has grown by more than one-third in the past three years.

Part of the project will involve the installation of a new high-capacity powder coat system to replace liquid paint operations. This will free up space for new robotic weld cells and cutting tables that are expected to improve product flow.


"We received a lot of support through the investment of Yanmar Co. Ltd. and several city, county and state grants and loans," Tate Johnson, president of Yanmar CE NA, said in a news release. "The expansion will improve efficiency, allowing us to better serve our customers as we continue to grow as a leader in compact equipment."

Yanmar Compact Equipment North America, based in Grand Rapids, manufactures compact excavators, tracked carriers and wheel loaders and the ASV line of Posi-Track compact track loaders.

Yanmar Co. Ltd., headquartered in Osaka, Japan, was founded in 1912, and grew in large part due it its development of an innovative practical small diesel engine in 1933. The company now has a global footprint, serving a number of industries, including the agriculture, construction and marine markets.

Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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