100 IN 100: Touring Putnam County Businesses

A visit to Greencastle took us to three manufacturing businesses that are expanding their capabilities to keep up with new opportunities. Diverse in size, scope and capabilities, these Putnam County businesses are all finding ways to incorporate new technologies to meet business challenges head on.

To gain greater control over its supply chain, Dixie Chopper, maker of the world’s fastest lawn mower, is looking for ways to bring more capabilities inhouse and to find more local suppliers. While visiting their plant, we learned that they are in the process of adding a second assembly line, which will support simultaneous residential and commercial lawn mower production.

The company also recently installed a modular tool lift, which allows it to store tools more efficiently and, therefore, frees up more room for product assembly and other operations(the location also distributes parts and provides customer service).

A Tier 1 supplier to Subaru, Heartland Automotive is looking to boost its capabilities while also addressing the worker shortage by increasing automation in a plant that does a lot of manual production. The 35-year-old operation, a subsidiary of Japan-based Shigeru. Co., Ltd., makes interior and exterior trim parts for the auto industry. The Greencastle plant that our team toured has expanded by more than 2.5 times from its original footprint, and it has a sister facility in Lafayette.

Another Tier 1 Subaru supplier that we visited, Chiyoda, operates 30 injection molding machines that have robots and magnetic clamping capabilities, but the 400,000-square-foot facility is working to convert more manual operations to automated ones. It also is working to skill up its workforce and make employees’ tasks more ergonomically friendly. At the same time, it is taking a creative approach to workforce challenges. For example, employees who miss a shift receive attendance “points” that they can reduce by doing volunteer work with local nonprofits. Not only does this help with employee retention, but it also encourages employees to get involved in their community.

This post is a part of a series called 100 IN 100 – a look at Conexus Indiana’s staff visits to advanced manufacturing and logistics employers across the state. Conexus is visiting 100 companies in 100 days during the spring and summer of 2022.