Manitou is to close its operations in Waco, Texas by the end of March next year in order to consolidate most of its North American production in South Dakota with the 148 staff based there either laid off or transferred. Manitou builds small pivot steer wheel loaders and Rough Terrain fork trucks in Texas and a north American parts centre was added in 2007.
The company will shift the articulated wheeled loaders produced in Waco to its facility in Yankton - one of two factories the group runs in South Dakota - where it will recruit 50 additional employees to build the Manitou/Gehl articulated loaders currently manufactured there. The forklifts currently built in Waco will be transferred to Beaupréau, France, while the units imported into the country will in future be shipped to Baltimore, Maryland.
Alexandre Caharel, vice president of the compact & articulated loaders production unit said: “Rationalisation of our US footprint and a streamlined operation will allow the group to boost its performances to always maintain innovation and service to US customers for the future. Strengthening the Manitou position in the US remains our key market strategy target.”
"Our priority now is to assist our 148 employees based in Waco with job searches, including providing resume assistance and connecting employees to resources offered by the Texas Workforce Commission."
The Waco plant was Manitou’s first toehold in the USA. It began working with KD Manufacturing in 1980 and then acquiring a 51 percent stake in the business the following year. It purchased the rest of the equity in 1986, rebranding as KD Manitou. KD already built a range of Rough Terrain and industrial forklifts for the US market.
KD was founded in nearby Cleburne in 1946 and only moved to the Waco facility in 1966 after a fire destroyed its original facility. When Manitou acquired Gehl in 2008 it gained the facilities in South Dakota, including the Gehl headquarters in West Bend, Wisconsin.
The closure of the relatively small Waco facility is probably long overdue but ends a connection with the town that not only dates back to 1980, but one that was personally set up by Manitou’s Marcel Braud, while son Marcel-Claude Braud moved to Waco in the early 1980s to manage the new business.
Manitou has always struggled with the North American market, perhaps this move will go a little way towards helping change that?