Kubota’s Growth in Georgia Spurs State GEAR Award for Transportation Equipment Manufacturer of the Year

Monday, September 13th, 2021

The story of Kubota in Georgia has been a story of explosive growth over the past 32 years, highlighted by its latest addition: a new $85 million, 300-acre research and development center operation under construction in Gainesville-Hall County as part of its North American manufacturing headquarters. The new center will include engineering offices, workshops, and outdoor test courses for Kubota’s vehicles, and marks the company’s fourth major expansion in Georgia since 2003. It will open in the spring of 2022.

This continued commitment to the state is one reason Kubota Manufacturing of America (KMA) has been named 2020 Transportation Equipment Manufacturer of the Year. Winners of the Georgia Emerging Automotive Recognition (GEAR) Awards, sponsored by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), are determined by votes cast by automotive suppliers within the state. Previously known as the Georgia Automotive Awards, the GEAR Awards recognize advances in the state’s automotive and mobility industries through innovation and emerging technologies. Transportation equipment manufacturing is a key industry in the state, contributing $4 billion to Georgia’s economy each year and supporting nearly 39,000 jobs.

“We are very honored to be recognized by the State of Georgia for this award,” said KMA President Hirohiko Arai. “As a manufacturer in this field, our strength comes from our products, our processes, and most importantly, from our people.”

Since industrial giant Kubota established their North American manufacturing base in Georgia in 1988, they have expanded to multiple locations in the state. More than 3,000 Georgians produce and assemble top-of-the-line Georgia Made™ rough terrain vehicles (RTVs), tractors, lawn tractors, mowers, utility vehicles, and more at Kubota’s Gainesville campus. Georgia Made™ is a program through the Georgia Department of Economic Development that provides additional support in logistics, manufacturing, and marketing of products produced in Georgia. Kubota was one of the first members of the program, which Governor Brian Kemp debuted in 2020.

Kubota’s products are distributed in the U.S., their largest market, accounting for 33% of their global sales, and abroad by Kubota Tractor Corporation and their 1,100-strong U.S.-dealer network. The company’s expansions have been driven by the development of new products in response to an increase in market demand. Their RTVs, for example, have seen ever-expanding usage for functions such as property management, land management, park management, and municipal services in busy urban centers.

“We strive to develop and sell top quality products that appeal to the largest customer base. Our business model is ‘local production for local consumption,’” says Phil Sutton, vice president of KMA. “Manufacturing our products in the market allows us to respond quickly to its demands with new and innovative products that fit consumer and commercial/professional customers at the same time.”

Sutton notes the company’s success in the state has been facilitated by workforce development partnerships. Kubota partners with Hall County high schools, Lanier Technical College, and the University System of Georgia’s engineering programs to develop a workforce pipeline. Georgia Quick Start, the state’s customized workforce development program, has also played a key role in Kubota’s expansions, preparing workers with training services, videos, and hands-on guidance.

“Access to a global supply chain, along with the pro-business environment fostered by the state and local governments, make Georgia a great place to operate our manufacturing operations,” he states. “Georgia is extremely well-rounded in terms of access to government. We partner with many state and local entities, from the Governor’s Office, to the Department of Economic Development, to the local economic development authorities, and they all work very well together. They make it easy for us to operate on a daily basis.”

The GEAR Awards are distinguished from others in that winners are voted on by leaders across Georgia’s automotive industry. This group consists of representatives from manufacturing companies, universities, and innovation centers. GDEcD sponsors the GEAR Awards to foster awareness of the range of products produced in the state, and to encourage collaboration.

“The GEAR award is affirmation that we are recognized as a leader in our industry,” says Sutton. “It also provides great motivation for our team members to be recognized for their significant contributions to the industry.”

“Kubota is a leader in the Gainesville-Hall County business community and one of the region’s largest employers. This is the sole global location for engineering, design, innovation, and

production for many of Kubota’s products. It is wonderful to see Kubota recognized in the GEAR Awards for their innovation and investment in Georgia,” said Kit Dunlap, president & CEO of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.