Kansas Manufacturer Expecting Record Production

Excel Industries, maker of Hustler and BigDog lawnmowers, is gearing up for a big 2013-14, making investments in production equipment and workers.

Excel Industries, a lawnmower manufacturer based in Hesston, KS, says it has experienced significant growth in 2012. Some 39 full-time employees have been added to the company payroll since June 1, and 27 had been involved with Excel as temporary agency workers prior to gaining regular employment status.

Excel brand names include Hustler and BigDog.

Employee turnover during the past calendar year was reportedly less than 10% of the workforce. “Although Excel’s products are more seasonal in nature, the company is committed to keeping its regular employment base as consistent as possible,” said Bob Mullet, Excel’s vice president.

Big things expected. In anticipation of a record production year, Excel has begun to ramp up its daily production rates, which required additional personnel. Excel also currently employs 58 temporary production workers on site, bringing the total employment of the company to 450. More than 90% of the workforce is at the main facility in Hesston.

Much of the additional hiring was necessitated by the production startup of the Hustler Raptor, a new lower-cost homeowner zero-turn mower that was introduced at Hustler Days, a dealer event held every other year this past September. Dealer response has been very positive, the company says, and the initial shipments of the product to dealers began this week.

Facility expansion. Excel recently completed a 40,000-square-foot addition to its production facility. The primary purpose of the addition is weatherproof storage of wholegoods inventory. The City of Hesston recently authorized a $4 million Industrial Revenue Bond issue, the proceeds of which were used for the expansion, and additional pieces of fabrication equipment.

"Despite what one reads about other companies holding back on capital investments because of economic uncertainty, Excel's position is that there's a lot of potential for growth in the next year or two, and we want to invest now to be ready for that growth,” Mullet said.

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