By building a new plant in Durant, agriculture equipment producer Group Schumacher hopes to import less and manufacture more.
Thursday, the company will hold a celebration for the opening of its new office and manufacturing plant, at 501 W. 2nd Ave., Durant. The family-owned German company, Group Schumacher, has operated its local headquarters out of Durant since 1994, according to North American Business Development Director Tim Chen.
“The plant is a huge improvement. We have more capacity, a new paint booth, upgraded machinery and better lighting,” Chen said. “Really it’s the Schumacher family making an investment in North America. We’re one of the largest agriculture economies in the world. And where Schumacher has a leading position in Europe, we haven’t had that in North America.”
The company, he said, currently imports from Germany around 70 percent of what it sells, while only manufacturing around 30 percent of its products in the United States.
“The overall concept is we want to have more regional manufacturing,” Chen said, of the Durant addition. “It gives us flexibility. If something were to happen here, we can always import from Germany to keep customers happy. And we have the ability to source from any place around the world that makes sense.”
The new facility will also put all of the company’s local employees under one roof, Chen said, with a walkway connecting it to its former office building next door. Officials broke ground on the more than $4 million project in the fall of 2016 and crews have been working out of a 32,000 square-foot production facility in Stockton.
The new plant is 40,000 square feet, which reaches 75,000 square feet when combined with the distribution center and offices, he said. So far, Chen said the company has hired an additional half-dozen workers, bringing the total number of employees to around 36.
“As a family run company, it is important to us to be viewed here in Durant as an employer who offers attractive and safe jobs,” said Selina Schumacher, one of the company’s lead executives. “Our investment in a new production facility reflects our ambition to strengthen our position as a provider of specialty harvest components in North America and to be a dependable partner for all those hard-working farmers, to help them make each harvest a success.”
Founded in Germany in 1968, Group Schumacher now employs more than 500 people at seven locations across the world, including in Germany, Brazil, Russia and the United States. The company started its North American operations in Durant in the mid-1990s, with the goal of leveraging local manufacturing with global production and sourcing.