Amidst the rhythmic resonance of machines at work, Caterpillar’s Athens plant marked a significant milestone: a decade of innovation, community engagement, and manufacturing prowess.
A Glimpse Inside the Production
Andrew Short, the company’s Supply Chain Planning Manager, led a tour, showcasing the technological symphony of machine assembly to visitors and long-time employees.
Short paused the tour at a particular workstation – a zone where heavy metal parts morph into formidable excavators. New faces are rarely seen here; it is “one of the toughest stations,” where the booms are intricately attached to the machines.
Celebrating a Decade
Errol Wint, the Cat Athens Facility Manager, expressed gratitude to the assembly of visitors, officials, and dedicated employees.
“The effort and energy it took to put this place into place is truly appreciated,” he commended.
The journey has seen the facility forge strong bonds with local educational institutions and consistently contribute to the community’s growth.
A Strategic Location
Korey Coon, Caterpillar’s Vice President and General Manager, reflected on the strategic choice of the plant’s location.
“It wasn’t an easy choice. There was competition. We weren’t just looking at one site to build the facility,” Coon recalled.
However, a decade of success affirms their decision:
“In the end, we’re here today because we made a great choice.”
State District 46 Senator Bill Cowsert highlighted the journey from an undeveloped tract to an “economic engine.” The initial hesitance of the Orkin family to part with the land and the collaboration between counties were pivotal chapters in this journey.
A Swift Journey to Production
From the announcement in Atlanta in 2012, the construction and grand opening on October 31, 2013, were swiftly executed. The first mini-excavator Model 308 soon followed off the assembly line.
“That was an incredible feat,” Coon remarked.
By February, a staggering 100,000 machines had been crafted at the plant.
Employees Reflect on the Journey
Woodrow Harrison, a ten-year veteran at the plant, recounted his progression from fencing and construction to his current role at Caterpillar.
“Ten years later here I am with no end in sight really. I’ve had promotions in the last 10 years. It’s been a good experience,” Harrison shared.
Crystal Rucker echoed the sentiment, recounting her evolution from a welder to a skilled professional, thanks to extensive training programs.
“Now you have a more defined way to build your career,” Rucker added.
D.J. Johnson’s narrative encapsulated the collective sentiment. A decade ago, the prospect of good wages and benefits lured him to Caterpillar. Today, the joy remains unabated.
“I still have the same joy I had 10 years ago coming to a great place to work,” Johnson affirmed. “To me, it always seems like it gets better.”
A Future Filled with Promise
As the hum of machinery fills the expansive Caterpillar plant, it echoes the relentless progress and innovation that has defined the past decade. The facility isn’t just a testament to engineering and manufacturing prowess but stands as a beacon of community development, employee growth, and organizational excellence.