Japanese company relocates R&D to Michigan from Missouri.
CASCADE TOWNSHIP, MI — Kawasaki Engines unveiled a revamped U. S. headquarters its Japanese parent company, that now has a new state-of-the-art R&D facility.
“Our home office in Japan has invested so much in the building and the people, ” said Nelson Wilner, Kawasaki Engine’s vice president.
The company’s history in the Grand Rapids area dates back to 1978 when then-Congressman Gerald R. Ford did the ribbon-cutting for the building, at 5080 36th St. SE, he said.
At the time, it housed Kawasaki’s motorcyle operations.
In 1992, the company moved engine operations to the 200,000 square-feet space in Cascade Township from Shakopee, Wis. In the last year, research and development operations were relocated to West Michigan from Marysville, Mo. where the company operates an engine factory.
The company’s 130-person West Michigan workforce includes engineers, accountants, marketing and sales people.
The relocation of R&D move was made to bring the division’s engineering staff closer to the sales team which work closely with Kawasaki customers.
Along with building upgrades, Kawasaki made some leadership changes. Dave Sugden was hired away from Scag Power Equipment to head R&D. Troy Smith was promoted manager of R&D testing and JJ Zeilstra moved up to manager of new development.
“We’ve supercharged our efforts as we plan for both the near and long term requirements, ” Wilner said.
The West Michigan facility, a division of Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA, makes 40 different industrial engines for landscape, industrial and consumer markets.