Thursday, November 10, 2011

Forsyth Tech Key to Landing Caterpillar

Forsyth Tech’s offer to train workers for Caterpillar Inc. was the key element in landing the huge plant.

“That is what sold Caterpillar on Winston-Salem,” said Rusty Davis, operations manager of the 850,000-square-foot plant nearing completion on Union Cross Road.

In a talk to the Tech Council’s Technology and Innovation Series, Davis listed a number of “project drivers” that were under consideration as the company chose from among several sites.

He said that 57 percent of the contractors who built the $426 million plant were from the Triad and 70 percent in all were from North Carolina. The company also plans on using local service providers once the facility is in operation. The plant will employ about 500 people with a payroll of $19 million.

“We’re no Dell,” he told a crowd of about 200 people at the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts. “We’ll be here for a long period of time and hopefully we can grow.”

The plant will build front wheels and rear axles for the mammoth trucks that can carry 1.3 million pounds fully loaded and move at speeds of up to 42 miles an hour. The axles themselves weigh 100,000 pounds and for now will be shipped by truck from the plant.

The plant will be LEED certified, using geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels to heat water, extensive skylights to cut down on electric lighting and numerous other green initiatives.

Davis pledged that the plant would quickly become part of the community, already sponsoring the “coin-toss kid” at Wake Forest football games.”

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