Chinese construction equipment maker Sany America has abandoned plans to invest $25 million in a new research center within in its $60 million factory in Peachtree City, company officials told Global Atlanta.
Sany announced the new investment last October during Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal‘s visit to its headquarters in China’s Hunan province.
The investment was to create jobs for more than 300 hydraulic and mechanical engineers, the company said and the state confirmed at the time. The company was slated to start hiring for the positions late this year.
Sany America Chairman Tim Frank blamed a slowing Chinese economy and shifts in its international strategy after purchasing Germany-based concrete pump manufacturer Putzmeister Holding GmbH in April.
With that decision, Sany moved its concrete pump operations from Georgia to a Putzmeister America plant in Sturtevant, Wis.
Sany America President Jack Tang told Global Atlanta in June that the move shouldn’t lead to net job losses in Peachtree City, which would focus on cranes and excavators. Now, Sany has refined its product focus further.
“With concrete pump manufacturing no longer a part of our business plan in Georgia, we’ve dedicated our factory to production of Sany crawler excavators,” said Mr. Frank, a former executive for Volvo Construction Equipment who joined Sany America in August, after the Putzmeister acquisition.
Though Sany made its fortune off concrete pumps, its shift to excavators paid off quickly in its home market. A decade after it started making the earth-moving machines, it overtook America’s Caterpillar Inc. and Japan‘s Komatsu Ltd. as the market leader in China, selling nearly 21,000 machines there in 2011.
Sany in 2013 plans to introduce a new excavator engine platform in the United States to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency‘s Tier 4 emissions standards, adopted in 2004 and currently being phased in. In the meantime, the company is allowed to sell a limited number of machines with Tier 3 engines.
“Our excavator sales have gone very well in 2012. We’ve met our targets for the year. Our excavator team has set out an aggressive growth plan for 2013. We’re really just getting started,” said Joe Hanneman, Sany America’s marketing director.
The Peachtree City plant can make 2,000 excavators per year. The company has contingency plans for building new facilities around the current factory if it reaches capacity. Sany currently employs about 100 people in Peachtree City and has the capacity for 350 blue- and white-collar staff there.
Local economic development organizations have made frequent recruitment trips to China, hoping to attract a piece of the country’s growing outbound investment. Georgia has been praised for its record in China, but some of the most vaunted projects, including proposed investments by Chinamex and General Protecht Group, have fallen flat or closed up shop.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development had not received any updates from Sany, said Alison Tyrer, a spokeswoman.
“We have not heard anything about a change in Sany’s plans, but it would not change our strategy in China. We are there for the long haul,” she said.
The department said November it would open a second China economic office in the city of Qingdao. Its current office opened in Beijing in 2008.
View Global Atlanta’s report on the governor’s trip to the Sany headquarters last year (with photos and videos): China’s Sany: From Hunan Home to Peachtree City