Minneapolis-based Daikin Applied will expand its production capabilities with a new state-of-the-art, built-to-order manufacturing facility in southern Minnesota, north of the city of Faribault.
Employing nearly 900 people in its Minnesota-based factories, Daikin Applied is a division of air-conditioning manufacturer Daikin Industries, headquartered in Japan. Daikin Industries has more than 90 production bases around the world to meet the specific needs of regional world markets, including two successful U.S. plants in Faribault and Owatonna, Minn.
Vice President and General Manager Will Fort leads operations at both Minnesota plants and will spearhead the development of this new factory.
“We have grown our operation within the city of Faribault over 50 years,” he said. “In 2000, we opened the Owatonna factory and completed a major expansion there in 2014 to triple its size. Our strong growth in recent years is the result of having highly skilled people in the plants, expert product design and marketing teams in our Plymouth headquarters and the commitment from Daikin Industries to manufacturing excellence.”
Daikin explored multiple site options outside of the United States, in different regions of the country and different Minnesota locations before deciding on the Faribault location. The region’s skilled talent base and past achievements in designing and producing complex, highly specified equipment made it a front-runner.
“We’re fully invested in this community,” said Matt Alexejun, senior director of human resources for manufacturing. “We know that our company only grows when our people grow. So we invest not just in the best training for our employees; we extend that commitment into the community by offering programs and training opportunities at local high schools and colleges.”
Fort added: “We certify master regional braze trainers through excellent Dojo [immersive learning space] training in Japan. The regional trainers then pass that international knowledge, skill and certification onto all our production braze operators, ensuring the quality of our product.”
Daikin engages prospective employees in the community through partnerships and company-funded vocational programs at local colleges and high schools, securing training grants with the Minnesota Department of Economic Development, and continues to invest in internal people-centered development programs. The new factory is expected to add significant new employment opportunities to the community.
“We have some of our best people in Minnesota and Japan partnering on this important project,” said Daikin Applied CEO Mike Schwartz, “We’re also appreciating the cooperation and assistance of the civic leaders in St. Paul and southern Minnesota to help make this happen.”
Jim Glen, manufacturing liaison engineer, who brings to the team more than 28 years of manufacturing experience in the region, is working with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Rice County and the city of Faribault to finalize state and local government financial assistance approvals to support the infrastructure, investment and employment needs of the new facility.
Approval of these financial resources at the local and state government levels is key to the project proceeding, and will allow transformation of the site and bringing the factory on line in 2019.