Caterpillar to reopen plant in Waco(PEORIA) – Caterpillar Inc. said Thursday it will reopen a plant in Waco, Texas, so it can produce work tools.About 30 people – more than worked at the plant when it closed in spring 2003 – will be hired initially this fall and the company said it expects employment to increase to about 80 people within a year.Production is expected to begin early in 2006, Caterpillar spokesman Ben Cordani said.Growing demand for Caterpillar products prompted the company to retool the $15 million Waco plant for the new work.That plant had been operating only two years, assembling articulated dump trucks, when it closed, putting 12 people out of work. Cordani said those 12 do not have rehire rights, but are encouraged to apply for the new jobs if they are interested.The plant now will make tools used on Caterpillar machines, primarily excavator buckets, the company said.”We’re extremely pleased to be putting this tremendous facility back to use and wish to thank the entire community, especially the (Waco) Chamber of Commerce, for the support we’ve received,” said Larry Holt, operations manager for Caterpillar Work Tools, in a prepared statement.Holt said using plants such as the one in Waco for specialized manufacturing frees its major plants to concentrate on manufacturing machinery. “As our business grows and we create highly efficient, specialized manufacturing facilities like this, we continue to enhance the quality, value and customer service our customers both expect and deserve,” Holt said.Cordani would not discuss whether other specialized manufacturing will be done at Waco, but added the plant “provides the opportunity for future growth.”The Waco plant was built to assemble articulated dump trucks – putting truck bodies made in North America on chassis built in England for North American customers. Similar work was done at Caterpillar’s plant in Peterlee, England, and the company determined demand wasn’t strong enough to have the work done at both plants.By PAUL GORDON of the journal star
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