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CNH Industrial opening warehouse in Willmar Industrial Park

CNH Industrial has bought the Buhler building and is renovating it to be a receiving and warehouse facility for the company.

A photo of a 141,000-square-foot cream-colored building with brick accents.
CNH Indsutrial has bought the 141,000-square-foot Buhler building to be a receiving and warehousing facility to work in conjunction with its Benson manufacturing facility. The company has budgeted $1.9 million to renovate the facility to meet its needs, according to Benson plant manager Lance Dockter.
Jennifer Kotila / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — CNH Industrial is working to open a receiving and warehousing facility in Willmar after it purchased the Buhler building, located at 2500 Airport Drive Southwest.

“In addition to purchasing the building, we have a budget this year of $1.9 million that we’re spending to upgrade the facility to meet our needs,” said Lance Dockter, plant manager at CNH Industrial in Benson. He spoke at the June 1 meeting of the Planning Commission for the city of Willmar.

CNH Industrial manufactures agricultural equipment including cotton pickers, floaters, sprayers and FlexAir applicators at its Benson location.

The plan is to initially occupy the eastern two-thirds of the building, adding four loading docks to the east end of the building, he told the Planning Commission as he presented the preliminary plans for review. The rest of the building will remain unoccupied for the time being.

There will be approximately 15 trucks entering the facility per day delivering parts, and six trucks leaving for Benson each day, Dockter said. Some light manufacturing, such as kit assembly, may take place in Willmar, but the heavy manufacturing will still take place in Benson, he added.

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Benson is one of nine manufacturing plants operated by CNH Industrial in the U.S., he said.

Sarah Swedburg, business development manager for the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission, added more context to the move being made by CNH Industrial at the EDC's June 9 meeting.

Noting she had met with the plant manager, she said the company lost its lease for one of the three buildings it currently leases in the Benson area. The 141,000-square-foot Buhler building in Willmar is large enough to meet the company's warehousing needs as it retires the remaining leased warehouse facilities.

A public hearing regarding a land sale for a tiny home development and a public hearing for the rezoning of property surrounding the Uptown Willmar mall will take place during the Monday, Aug. 15, meeting of the Willmar City Council.

The company employs about 450 people in its Benson manufacturing plant, 100 of whom are brought in from other states such as Texas, Arkansas and Georgia, she said, noting they are “hurting for employees.” About 78 employees come from the Willmar and New London-Spicer area, she added.

“All of their engines get shipped in, and the one really stark conversation that we had was the one around logistics and the supply chain, of course,” Swedburg said, adding that the company usually keeps a supply of about 40 to 50 engines on hand, which is a little over a week’s supply for them.

Most of the engines are shipped to the U.S. on cargo ships.

“Because of the backup there and wanting to make sure that they don’t run out of engines, they are now storing four to five hundred engines at any given time in the U.S., which is why they are seeing an increase in the need for warehousing space,” Swedburg said.

In addition to what will be the Willmar warehouse, CNH Industrial also has warehousing in Fargo, North Dakota, and it pays to hold engines at port, she said.

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“We are certainly seeing quite the implication for them having to work through some of the supply chain things that they are seeing,” she added, noting it will be “a great company to have in Willmar.”

Jennifer Kotila is a reporter for West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minnesota. She focuses on local government, specifically the City of Willmar, and business.

She can be reached via email at: jkotila@wctrib.com or phone at 320-214-4339.
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