(By Dale King) HOUSTON – The massive 4 million-square-foot Daikin Industries air conditioner and furnace factory under construction in northwest Houston will eventually have 5,000 employees – 1,000 more employees than what has been previously announced, a company spokesman said.
Daikin Industries, says the facility – which will be the largest tilt-wall building in the world – will be completed around the end of the year.
When completed, the Daikin building will have a 1.8-million-square-foot distribution center, 1.7 million square feet of manufacturing space, a 196,500-square foot-mezzanine, 231,598 square feet of lab space and 202,600 square feet of office space.
Plus, it will have 5,000 parking spaces.
“When the facility is fully operational, we anticipate having approximately a total of 5,000 employees,” said Rex Anderson, director of communications for Daikin.
Osaka, Japan-based Daikin, the world’s largest manufacturer of heating and cooling (HVAC) equipment and refrigerant products, is investing nearly a half-billion dollars to build the 4 million square foot plant on the northwestern outskirts of Houston, near Highway 290. The company calls the plant its “Cypress Creek Campus.”
The firm will consolidate its Goodman division operations from four existing plants – two in Tennessee and two others in Texas – in the massive new Houston structure. About 1,000 workers from Tennessee will be relocated to the Lone Star State plant.
“As previously communicated, we are moving four assembly plants to the new business campus,” said Anderson. “All four will move into the new facility and we will vacate the current properties.”
“Given that we provided employees in all affected locations with approximately two years advance notice, some have indicated they would not be moving due to personal [reasons] or other situations.”
Anderson said the workers relocating to Texas come from a unionized Goodman plant in Dayton, Tenn., and a non-union Goodman manufacturing facility in Fayetteville, Tenn. “Employees that will be transferring to Texas have been receiving information and materials that will help make their transition as easy as possible,” he added.
Media reports said the Tennessee factory closings announced by Daikin about a year ago were unexpected and caused a stir in both municipalities. But community officials in both towns said they were grateful Daikin gave the advance notice.
“We hated to lose [the plant], but we are happy that it’s a two-year program,” said Dayton Mayor Gary Louellen in a January 2015 article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Fayetteville Mayor Jon Law, quoted in the same newspaper, said he had expected the company to expand the plant in that town of 7,100 people because new equipment had recently been installed there. However, just the opposite occurred.
The facility in Fayetteville was constructed in the 1960s as a Raytheon Appliances manufacturing plant. Raytheon was eventually bought out by Amana and later by Goodman.
The 4 million square foot manufacturing plant being built in Houston is slated for completion sometime from “late 2016 to early 2017,” said Anderson. “Currently, a portion of the distribution warehouse is operational and has more than 200,000 units in inventory.”
The structure is located in the suburban northwest Houston area, near U.S. 290, about three miles west of Grand Parkway.
“This commitment of approximately $417 million represents the largest single investment since the founding of the Goodman organization more than 40 years ago,” said Anderson.
Daikin Industries, Ltd. acquired Goodman Global Group, Inc. in late 2012 for $3.7 billion. The deal was announced in August 2012, then finalized by November. During the intervening months, the “relevant regulatory authorities” had to approve the project.
Anderson said the consolidated campus will enable Daikin to manufacture in one location a full range of energy-efficient ducted residential and light commercial products as well as various ductless products currently imported from plants outside North America. Manufacturing operations at the new campus will create products primarily under the Daikin, Goodman and Amana brand names.
In fact, he said, “the facility will manufacture both ducted and ductless HVAC products, which is a first for Daikin. Ducted heating and cooling systems are considered the standard in the United States. Ductless systems are installed extensively around the world. Ductless systems have gained rapid acceptance in the North American marketplace and have become one of the fastest growing HVAC market segments.”
Employment at the new campus will increase as a result of expanded product manufacturing and the plant consolidation. “Our goal is to treat our current employees fairly and equitably when the transfer of manufacturing operations begins,” said Kari Durham, senior vice president of human resources. “Total employment [at the Houston plant] will increase to approximately 4,000 employees.”
The facility will have room for considerable growth, which is expected to eventually increase the workforce to 5,000, said Anderson, the company spokesman.
“Quite a few additional products will be manufactured in the new facility,” Anderson said. Besides air conditioners, “we will engineer, design and assemble heat pumps, gas furnaces, packaged products, ductless products and VRV (multi-split type air conditioner) systems. In short, the new facility will provide products for residential, commercial and industrial applications.”
“Our selection of Houston for our new campus was a result of careful analysis and business considerations,” said Takeshi Ebisu, president and CEO of Goodman Manufacturing Company, LP. “It offers an outstanding combination that includes the ability to provide an educated workforce, economic growth and a favorable year-round climate necessary for manufacturing and operational excellence.”
Architecture for the Houston factory was designed by Powers Brown Architecture. LJB Inc. is the engineer and D.E. Harvey Builders is general contractor.
March 8, 2016
Dale King is a regular contributor to Realty News Report, a Texas-based publication.