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June 20, 2011 5:45 AM, EDT

Truck Engine Manufacturer Cummins to Add Employees as Industry Ramps Up

By Greg Johnson, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the June 20 print edition of Transport Topics.

Cummins Inc., manufacturer of heavy-duty truck engines, said it is adding 600 white-collar workers at its Columbus, Ind., headquarters, joining the wave of truck-industry manufacturers adding employees as they raise production to meet rapidly growing demand.

Truck sales, which have increased for 17 consecutive months, jumped 68% in May. Other original equipment manufacturers hiring new workers include Daimler Trucks North America, Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks North America.

Cummins said June 10 that engineers will comprise many of the 600 slated to work in the company’s new $17 million office building.

“The announcement was a result of the general growth in our business around the world, which is driving the need for more people,” said Cummins spokesman Mark Land. More than 60% of Cummins’ sales are generated outside of the United States.

Land said Cummins already has added production personnel.

“In Rocky Mount, we have increased full-time employment by about 140 people this year,” he said. “At Jamestown, we have added about 130 full-time and another 120 temporary workers.”

Cummins’ Rocky Mount, N.C., plant produces diesel, propane and natural gas engines, while the Jamestown, N.Y., facility makes heavy-duty ISX engines.

Meanwhile, Daimler Trucks North America LLC recently said it is hiring 1,400 production workers.

DTNA, Portland, Ore., said on June 10 it plans to sharply increase production and hire about 1,400 new workers at three truck plants, to meet higher demand.

Daimler, which makes Freightliner and Western Star brand trucks in North America, said in a statement that it would increase production at its Mount Holly, N.C., and Portland truck manufacturing plants in the last half of 2011.

Production and hiring also will increase significantly at Daimler’s Saltillo plant in Mexico, which was dedicated two years ago and makes Freightliner trucks, Daimler said.

Mack Trucks Inc., Allentown, Pa., is on track to boost production and add 300 new workers at its Macungie, Pa., truck plant in August, according to spokesman John Walsh.

“We’ll continue to adjust our production activities due to customer demand,” he said.

In April, Volvo Trucks North America, Greensboro, N.C., announced that in response to increased demand, it would ramp-up production at its New River Valley plant in Dublin, Va., and recall about 700 employees.

“The ramp-up and recall took place in several stages, beginning in early May,” said Brandon Borgna, a Volvo spokesman. “We now operate in two shifts and employ about 2,200 at the plant.”

Parts makers also are adding workers as truck sales make a rebound.

“We see significant growth in the North American market and production volume this year,” said Chuck Hartalage, a spokesman for Maumee, Ohio-based parts maker Dana Holding Corp.

“In order to meet our customers’ requirements we have and will continue to increase production-related employment in the majority of our plants in North America, as well as other regions of the world,” Hartalage said.

In August 2010, Paccar Inc., Bellevue, Wash., hired 90 workers at its new truck engine plant in Columbus, Miss., which makes 12.9-liter engines for Paccar U.S. divisions Kenworth Truck Co. and Peterbilt Motors Co., and European unit DAF Trucks NV.

Paccar broke ground on the 400,000-square-foot facility in 2007 for $400 million and agreed to provide 500 jobs by 2013. But the company had to wait until U.S. demand picked up enough to justify opening the new factory.

Thanks to an uptick in the economy, Navistar Inc. has recalled “several hundred employees” at its medium and heavy-duty truck plant in Springfield, Ohio, said spokesman Roy Wiley.

“We could possibly recall some more,” he said.

Wiley also said Navistar has added personnel at its truck plants in Garland, Texas, and Escobedo, Mexico. In addition, Wiley said Navistar has made new hires at two engine plants in Huntsville, Ala.

Because of a new contract reached in fall 2010 with the United Auto Workers, Navistar can produce both medium and heavy duty trucks at its plants, Wiley said.