Had a nice start to the day on Friday while sitting in on an update on the Caterpillar Community Relations manager, Henry Vicary. Mr. Vicary covered a host of topics that were on everyone’s mind, ranging from what the recent company wide reorganization looked like, to what Caterpillar’s future is in central Illinois and the upside to a downturn in the global mining market.
The last quarter of 2015 saw the announcement by Caterpillar that they were going to under go a company wide reorganization to better align itself with the current manufacturing environment. This includes up to 10,000 positions that would be eliminated globally. Of that, there were 1,200 employees that took an early retirement package that was offered, which was much higher than anticipated. There were also 260 salary management positions that were eliminated, 340 agency workers that lost their jobs, and 230 positions in East Peoria that may or may not be eliminated in 2016. There were about 2100 positions eliminated across the country.
In December Caterpillar announced that they were approximately 90% done with the reorganization on a local level, and they are a little higher than that now, however that isn’t the case on a national or global level. He went on to say that the restructuring is done at the local level. That isn’t to say that demand related temporary layoffs may continue to occur in 2016 and beyond. Of the total restructure numbers, about 18-20% was done locally. The local reorganization also occurred at a faster clip than other parts of the country and around the world.
With coal being down 90% in West Virginia alone, along with the shaky economies of Brazil, Europe, China and Russia, that has caused a major pullback on the demand for new products and tractors. The parts and maintenance divisions however are strong, as well as building construction products in north America, and generator sets were also doing good.
The downtown headquarters planning is complete-and ready to go-but only when global conditions improve and it makes sense to start that project. There is no doubt the positive spillover effect this will have on the downtown area and beyond, and the discussion about the rest of the city getting behind the downtown development to make the area more appealing to the younger generation of workers that are coming to Caterpillar from other parts of the country that like the appeal of living downtown and being close to work and social outlets was discussed.
The biggest takeaway was that Caterpillar is here to stay. The infrastructure that is in place with the downtown headquarters, logistics and facilities in Morton, the Mossville facility, the proving grounds, as well as the foundry in Mapleton, all add up to a strong local presence.