Clear Words at Rocky Mount

The words “globalization,” “competitiveness” and “skilled workforce” are bandied around a lot these days by one and all and for good reason. They are key components of the future of U.S. manufacturing.

So it was a real insight to hear a senior manufacturing executive describe in some detail what these forces mean for his own company. Joe Loughrey is the president and chief executive officer at Cummins in Columbus, Indiana. This maker of diesel engines also has a large facility in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, where Mr. Loughrey was invited to speak to the local Chamber of Commerce. To read his speech, click here.

Anyone who is at all interested in the future of U.S. manufacturing should take a look at his remarks which are an up-close look a company that is grappling with globalization, competitiveness and a skilled workforce shortage. Mr. Loughrey’s highlights about Cummins:

  • has a global power generation business with half of its sales made outside the US;
  • exports over $2 billion worth of products from the US each year, making it one of the largest US manufacturing exporters;
  • has 30 and 40 year histories of building and selling engines in both China and India;
  • leads in advanced technological solutions to reduce diesel emissions, including a new engine for the Dodge Ram that meets the tough new emission standards for oxides of nitrogen now, three years early;
  • faces a shortage of skilled workers. And about that, he says,
    Let me stress that for North Carolina and Rocky Mount–as well as other communities where Cummins does business–the big issue is finding enough skilled labor…employees who are prepared to use statistical methods, operate higher technology equipment, work well with colleagues and are eager to learn new, more efficient ways of getting their jobs done. Solving this problem is absolutely necessary to being and remaining a world-class manufacturer….and if we can’t find it here, we and others will have to look elsewhere.

    Cummins is at the forefront of bridging this skills gap and Mr. Loughrey discusses the innovative steps the company is taking in its home state of Indiana to build a skilled, robust workforce. Cummins has so much confidence in these workforce initiatives that it has announced the location of a new light-duty diesel engine plant in Indiana when it could have been located elsewhere. In a recent op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer, Mr. Loughrey laid out some real concerns he has about that state’s workforce readiness programs. Click here to read it.

    He also announced that Cummins will be investing $22 million in its Rocky Mount plant this year, with about half of it dedicated to increasing the assembly line operations to increase engine production. And who says nothing is made in America any more?