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Mack Trucks Invests $70 Million in Improvements, Expansion

By Colin McEvoy on April 18, 2016

Mack Trucks has announced plans to invest $70 million in its Lower Macungie Township facility. (Photo by Marco Calderon)

Mack Trucks has announced plans to invest $70 million in its Lower Macungie Township facility. (Photo by Marco Calderon)

During the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation’s (LVEDC) Fall Signature Event in November, Mack Trucks reaffirmed its commitment to the Lehigh Valley and confirmed that it was “here to stay.”

Five months later, they’ve made it official. The company has formally announced its plans to invest about $70 million in improvements at its Lower Macungie Township plant, to further improve manufacturing quality and efficiency and modernize the facility.

“For more than 40 years, Mack’s Lehigh Valley Operations has built high-quality trucks that our customers can depend on,” said Dennis Slagle, President of Mack Trucks. “This investment strategy will help ensure we continue to deliver Mack’s legendary durability through a more efficient, integrated and modern manufacturing operation.”

LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham said this is the biggest business retention and expansion to be announced since he began with the organization four years ago.

“This is a huge win for the Lehigh Valley,” Cunningham said. “It doesn’t usually draw the kind of big headlines that you see when a new business moves into the region, but the behind-the-scenes work done to retain important companies like Mack Trucks and help them expand is just as important as recruiting new companies.”

The plant enhancements will include a 75,000 square-foot expansion to improve material handling and flow, new manufacturing IT systems, equipment and tooling, and a new building for conducting quality audits on completed vehicles, according to Mack Trucks.

LVEDC has been significantly involved with Mack Trucks, a top employer for the region. Mack Trucks employs 1,866 workers at its Lehigh Valley facility, up from 812 in 2009, and the company builds all of its trucks for the North American market in the Lehigh Valley, producing 116 trucks a day. Last year marked the biggest output its plant had ever seen, company officials said.

LVEDC’s Fall Signature Event, which spotlights an existing company in the region that exemplifies a particular industry, was hosted at Mack Trucks in November, with a focus on manufacturing. That event marked the first time the company publicly touched upon its plans to expand.

The investment plan includes about $12 million in projects that will be completed over the next three years, but were included in the $26 million upgrade announced in 2014, according to the company.

In order to better manage and streamline the manufacturing process, chassis pre-assembly work currently completed by Westport Axle in Breinigsville, Pa, will be moved into the Lower Macungie Township plant, the company has announced.

Mack Trucks’ announcement is yet another sign of the strength of Lehigh Valley’s manufacturing sector, which makes up $4.95 billion of the region’s $35.4 billion overall gross domestic product. The manufacturing portion of the GDP grew by 4.1 percent over the previous year, making the region at 64th largest output of manufacturing out of 351 major metropolitan areas in the United States.

“Manufacturing remains a cornerstone of our diversified economic base,” Cunningham said. “While there aren’t as many jobs in manufacturing today as in the past because of automation and jobs, the fact remains that manufacturing is a virtual tie for our second-largest output sector. We have 677 manufacturers making goods here in the Lehigh Valley and putting out more economic output than is prevalent in most regions for that sector.”

Workforce, Water, and Access to Consumers Key in Winning Development Battles

This column, written by LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham, originally appeared in Lehigh Valley Business on April 18, 2016. (Click here to read Cunningham’s previous colu[...]

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