Kohler Engines is ramping up production at its Hattiesburg, MS manufacturing facility in response to strong demand for the company’s newest twin-cylinder engine lines, the Confidant, 7000 Series and 6000 Series. These engines, designed primarily for zero-turn-radius (ZTR) mowers and residential riding lawn mowers, have proven extremely popular among consumers seeking professional-grade performance as well as smaller commercial landscapers who want a durable, cost-effective option.
“We’re making a multi-million dollar investment to extend our leadership position in these consumer ride and light commercial categories,” says Eric Hudak, marketing manager – consumer ride and walk engines for KOHLER Engines. “We’ve leveraged our commercial expertise to design our 7000 Series with 2x longer useful engine life and our Confidant engines to meet our most stringent commercial durability tests. In addition, we’ve integrated our Smart-ChokeTM starting system into many of these products to provide an extremely reliable starting experience without the need to choke or prime the engine – you can just turn the key and go. Our customers have noticed these innovations and that’s resulting in great growth and our need to expand.”
The market for consumer ZTRs is booming. According to the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), growth was at double-digit levels each year between 2012 and 2014. Residential riders, while not growing as quickly as ZTRs, are also forecasted to increase this year. With KOHLER’s expansion in Hattiesburg, the company will be positioned to satisfy this growing customer demand over the next several years and beyond.
The growth in Hattiesburg will translate into more than 100 new jobs, the vast majority of those consisting of fulltime, year-round production and support positions. The KOHLER Engines facility, which consists of more than 200,000 square feet, currently houses more than 200 fulltime hourly associates and more than 300 temporary workers are typically hired on a seasonal basis.
“We’re proud to be adding jobs in Mississippi, and we’re excited about the American craftsmanship and ingenuity that will continue to drive the success of our 7000 Series, 6000 Series, and Confidant engines moving forward,” Hudak adds. “We spend a great deal of time focusing our engine designs to meet the durability and reliability needs of our customers, and we’re pleased that the market had responded so favorably.