WEST FARGO – Bobcat Co. will cut 140 jobs from its Gwinner plant later this year and move production of its compact excavators to its Bismarck plant, the firm said in a news release Thursday.
Bobcat is looking to use space more efficiently, said spokeswoman Laura Ness Owens. The Gwinner plant is expected to produce more compact tracked loaders in response to market demand, she said, and these machines require more space.
Most of the cuts will likely come through attrition, she said.
Bobcat now makes skid-steer loaders, track loaders and excavators in Gwinner.
The additional production of tracked loaders, however, will not result in more jobs in Gwinner. The move to Bismarck will add 160 jobs there when the new excavator line starts in spring 2017.
Bobcat now employs about 1,600 in Gwinner as part of a workforce of 3,000 throughout North Dakota, including plants in West Fargo and Wahpeton. Bobcat, which also has manufacturing plants in Litchfield, Minn., France and the Czech Republic, is a part of Doosan Infracore, based in Seoul, South Korea.
“We are proud to be the market leader in compact equipment — and this move enables us to deliver our next generation of products to ensure that role long term,” said Ness Owens. “Bismarck provides the resources, manufacturing space and greater capacity we need to remain successful in the growing and changing excavator market.”
Bobcat has gone through many manufacturing and job layoffs and hires in the past seven years.
Citing pressures from the global recession, Bobcat shuttered its Bismarck manufacturing plant in 2009, cutting 475 jobs in Bismarck and moving about 275 of those to Gwinner.
In 2012, Bobcat announced plans for its Acceleration Center in Bismarck and the 50 jobs that came with it. The company’s compact attachment production also moved to Bismarck and what was then Menlo Worldwide Logistics, now called XPO, a partner of Bobcat, added 150 positions.
This time around, those 140 jobs eliminated in Gwinner will move Bismarck.
Gwinner employees will be able to apply for additional positions within the company and will be offered transitional assistance with the change.
The move will begin later this year and continue through 2017. Recruitment for the jobs will likely start in early 2017, Ness Owens said.
Doosan Bobcat will continue to employ about 1,460 people in Gwinner after the move.
“Gwinner is our home. We’ve been producing Bobcat products there for nearly 60 years, and we’ll continue to do so with current and future generations of compact loaders,” said Ness Owens. “We’ve made significant investments in Gwinner in recent years — and will continue to do so as necessary. Today’s announcement reaffirms our commitment to continue as the market leader, while also remaining strong in North Dakota.”
Ness Owens said XPO will continue its implement manufacturing and engine assembly work in Bismarck. It has not yet been decided whether the 160 new workers will work as XPO contractors or be employed directly by Bobcat.
To make the necessary space in Bismarck, the company is consolidating warehousing operations to an existing Bobcat facility in Otsego, Minn., starting this summer. About 40 XPO warehousing employees in Bismarck will be reassigned to new jobs within the manufacturing facility.
Jessica Holdman of the Bismarck Tribune contributed to this report