WALLER, Texas – (By Dale King) – On a lofty stage, amidst a flurry of confetti, executives from Goodman Global Group, a North American subsidiary of Daikin Industries, Ltd., recently cut a long, blue-and-white ribbon to signal the official opening of its expansive, new indoor heating and cooling systems and refrigerants manufacturing plant here in Waller, a Houston suburb of 2,400 residents.
On May 24 – about 25 months after officials broke ground for the sprawling, 94-acre industrial building under one roof on what was once an Texas cow pasture – the certified grand opening ceremony commemorated Daikin’s investment in Texas. It featured an array of activities for more than 400 state and local elected officials, Daikin executives, partners and vendors, employees and the local community. Country music star Clint Black provided entertainment.
Daikin, a 93-year-old firm with roots still deeply based in Japan, invested well over $400 million to construct the facility on a 500-acre site northwest of Houston. Containing more than four-million operational square feet, the center — named the Daikin Texas Technology Park (DTTP) — supports the design, engineering and assembly of a wide range of energy-efficient heating and cooling products for residential and commercial use, marketed under the brand names of Daikin, Goodman and Amana.
“The DTTP is the largest facility investment our company has made in its history, and we believe that investing in Texas and keeping jobs in the United States is mutually beneficial for both our company and the economy,” Takeshi Ebisu, president and CEO of Goodman Global Group, Inc., said during opening festivities.
He said the Houston area was selected for several reasons. It is one of the largest regions for HVAC business. The area is experiencing rapid population growth and the location provides close access to a talented workforce.
“After acquiring Goodman in 2012, we were looking for an opportunity to further demonstrate our commitment to expanding our presence in the United States,” said Ebisu. “This new campus is our opportunity to reinforce our position as a global leader in HVAC manufacturing, innovation and ingenuity.”
The grand opening came some seven months after the first HVAC unit rolled off the new assembly line in Waller. More work needs to be done on the plant and additional assembly lines are under construction. Daikin says the current work force, counting office and manufacturing personnel totals 2,000 and more employees are being added.
The workforce should hit the 4,000 to 5,000 range “between 2017 and 2018,” he added. It could rise even higher, as an online company graphic predicts an employee base of “5,000-plus” by 2018.
In an interview with RealtyNewsReport.com last summer, Director of Communications Rex Anderson said the number of employees could approach 6,000 in the years to come. For now, Daikin has pegged the workforce total at “5,000 +” with the current building size.
Established to integrate the four factories that Goodman currently operates in Houston and Tennessee, the new center consolidates marketing and customer support activities to provide greater operational efficiencies within the company.
In addition, a new Research & Development function is being created, and the local product development system will be further enhanced. The new factory will showcase a state-of-the-art production technology system that uses a modular manufacturing line that can respond to fluctuations in production amount and automatically regulate its progress.
“We hope to achieve a digital factory that uses IoT (Internet of things) and M2M and mobilizes here all of the manufacturing know-how that the Daikin Group has cultivated worldwide,” said Noriyuki Inoue, Daikin’s chairman of the board and chief global group officer. Also, DTTP will be a model factory to introduce into the United States the technology that Daikin has developed at the firm’s facilities around the globe.
“Consolidating our team and manufacturing facilities into one campus helps us become a more collaborative, cohesive and innovative company,” stated Ebisu. The facility also enables the company to manufacture a full range of energy-efficient ducted and ductless residential and light commercial products in the same facility, a first for Daikin. A technology new to the U.S. is being introduced — Variable Refrigerant Volume (VRV) products which previously have been imported from other Daikin business units outside of North America. They are more efficient in terms of power consumption, thanks to electrical inverters that allow for variable speeds at various parts of the unit instead of simple “on” and “off” switches.
During the grand opening last month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said, “Daikin’s investment is a testament to why Texas continues to be the best state for business – low taxes, reasonable regulations, affordable quality of life and a high-skilled workforce. I applaud Daikin for their commitment to Texas and I am excited they have chosen the Lone Star State for their new state-of-the-art facility.”
In addition, State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R – Dist. 18) and State Rep. Tom Oliverson (R – Dist. 130) presented resolutions recognizing Daikin for its commitment to the Texas economy through infrastructure investment and job creation.
A spokesman said the 94-acre plant – equal to 74 football fields – offers many amenities for employees. “There is a wellness center connected to Memorial Hermann and a large cafeteria for employees. Food is delivered near the assembly lines to ensure that employees have an opportunity for lunch, snacks and break times.”
The location has ample parking that was “designed to include spaces for employees when the facility is operating at full capacity.”
He noted that businesses in the Waller area “have reported increased sales as a result of DTTP employees.”
Here are a few key stats about the Daikin Texas Technology Park:
- $417 million investment to construct.
- 23 million square feet of space under one roof on a 497-acre campus
- 3-mile perimeter around the entire facility
- Largest tilt-wall structure in the U.S.
- Second-largest manufacturing facility in the U.S.
- 22 assembly lines at completion in 2018