HESSTON — Danny Hawkins, the treasurer for United Steel Workers Local 11228, crashed a party at AGCO with a message from the union Friday. A message he fought back tears to deliver to AGCO management, the governor, local business leaders and media.
"We appreciate this investment," Hawkins said. "We realize this means more work for us, the security of our jobs and the jobs of our children and grandchildren."
The party in question was a ribbon cutting — which was designed to feature Gov. Sam Brownback and AGCO Corporate Management.
Standing inside a new 200,000 square foot paint facility that cost AGCO $45.627 million, Hawkins stole the show. The new story wasn't about investment figures, or the 35,000 gallon dip tanks and the process of painting a combine that rivals that used by the world's top automotive manufacturers. The story was no longer about the governor holding a pair of scissors.
The story became about the 25 people working in the facility now and the 55 people per shift who will work there when it is operating at full capacity. AGCO officials said those will be a mix of new jobs and people transferred from other departments.
"This means a guy like me can marry a woman, come here, get a job and support a family. She can stay home with the kids if that's needed," Hawkins told the Kansan and AGCO management following his public statement. "Not every kid will go to school. … This means those kids, my kids and grandkids, can work here."
The ribbon cutting at the facility coincides with a three-day celebration at AGCO — the company announced the new Gleaner S8 Super Series Combine during a party Thursday night. Today the company celebrates the 90th anniversary of the Gleaner brand with a parade in Hesston. Gleaner combines are built in Hesston.
Those Gleaner combines will tour the streets of Hesston at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, and be on the AGCO grounds Saturday afternoon.
From this day forward, Gleaner combines will be painted silver in a new facility that is the tallest building in Hesston.
"This paint shop is the most modern paint factory in the United States," said Hans-Bernd Veltmaat, senior vice president and chief sully chain officer of AGCO. "We did all of this to invest in the future of our employees in this location."