Thu 16th Apr 2015
Caterpillar: $25m in new investment brought to Northern Ireland, NI Chamber event hears
A focus on diversification and innovation is helping Caterpillar NI bring important new opportunities to Northern Ireland according to its Operations Director, Robert Kennedy.
The audience at the Minister on the Move event hosted earlier today in Caterpillar’s Larne facility also heard from Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, who revealed that the latest preliminary figures contain more encouraging news for the local economy on job creation, investment in businesses, and in research and development.
Arlene Foster said: “Preliminary figures for the first four years of the current Programme for Government show that over the last four years Invest NI has promoted over 37,000 new jobs throughout Northern Ireland. This compares very favourably to an ambitious target of 25,000 new jobs.
“Over the last four years, support from Invest has ensured that companies have invested over £2.6 billion in the local economy against a target of £1 billion.
“Most encouraging of all, more than £500 million has been secured for research and development over the last four years, far exceeding the £300m target.”
Praising the local management team and workforce at Caterpillar, Arlene Foster added: “The local workforce is now involved in diverse manufacturing activities as well as Caterpillar’s traditional generator business. This has only been possible as a result of the high standard of the facilities, processes and skills in Northern Ireland, as well as the creativity and commitment of the local management team.”
The event formed part of ‘Minister on the Move’ – a business led initiative by Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry in partnership with British Airways and American Airlines which gives businesses the opportunity to speak directly with Ministers from the NI Executive at a number of locations across the province.
Founded in 1966, Caterpillar (NI) Limited is Europe’s largest diesel generating set manufacturer. The company houses 12 Caterpillar divisions across four sites in Northern Ireland and has global manufacturing facilities in Brazil, China, India and the USA. Speaking at the event, Robert Kennedy, Operations Director at Caterpillar NI, said:
“As a Patron of the NI Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Caterpillar NI is very pleased to host this event, and to welcome the Minister to our Larne facility. Minister Foster has worked closely with us over the years to support our investments in the skills and capabilities of our people, as well as our local facilities, as we continue to develop our Northern Ireland sites as a Centre of Excellence within the Caterpillar group. This has helped us to bring significant new opportunities to our local facilities, including the manufacture of wheeled material handlers and the assembly of axles for articulated trucks. These have added to our core business, the manufacture of generator set products.”
Caterpillar’s traditional product portfolio has been generator sets; however it has diversified in recent years and has implemented a number of innovative projects to do so. Highlighting the importance of diversification, Mr Kennedy continued:
“Our future, I believe, is in our ability to innovate and be creative, to be willing to diversify, to get outside of our comfort zone. While we must always strive to be the leaders in efficiency and to be best on cost, our strategy is centred squarely on our customer, on the value we provide, on innovation and diversification. Two years ago we were focused on volume. Now we are much more diversified, and more focused on higher value added to our customers. The assembly of axles for large Caterpillar trucks and loaders now employs more than 100 local people at our Larne facility. In terms of our Caterpillar Wheeled Material Handler operations, we recently shipped our first product, a 37 tonne unit, to Spain. A number of further machines are currently in production, destined for South America, and the development of much larger units, through to 60 tonne, is currently underway. Together, these programmes represent a $25m investment in Northern Ireland.”
The event also included an address from Minister Foster, followed by an open forum where delegates shared their views with the Minister, and asked questions on what the Northern Ireland Executive is doing to help grow the private sector.
Commenting on the Minister on the Move initiative, Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of NI Chamber, said:
“Chambers of Commerce are committed to helping businesses grow and we see ‘Minister on the Move’ as being an important and mutually beneficial initiative for both business and government. It will create a forum for the open exchange of views leading to a better understanding of the importance of public policy and the economic environment in which we operate. We all have the shared aim of growing the Northern Ireland economy and an initiative such as this one allows us to keep in regular contact along the way.”
Brenda Morgan, British Airways Partnership Manager for Northern Ireland, added:
“British Airways is delighted once again to sponsor the ‘Minister on the Move’ initiative. Supporting the growth of the local economy is of paramount importance. British Airways provides a vital airlink of up to six flights a day from Belfast City Airport to London Heathrow as well as seamless connections from Terminal 5 to our global network, essential for the flow of business and commerce both into and out of Belfast.”
David Thomas Regional Director Sales, UK & Ireland concluded:
“American Airlines continues to be a strong partner to Northern Ireland businesses, providing year round connections across North America from Dublin via Philadelphia. This partnership coincides with American also launching our seasonal services from Dublin to New York, Chicago and Charlotte, and also from Shannon to Philadelphia. We are delighted to provide Chief Executives, Managing Directors and Business Leaders in Northern Ireland with the opportunity to share best practices for trading in the United States.”
Ann McGregor (NI Chamber); Caitriona Toner (American Airlines); Robert Kennedy (Caterpillar NI); Minister Arlene Foster and Brenda Morgan (British Airways).