The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Local News

June 12, 2009

Montana Tractors to add workers

Company looking to merge with another farm equipment manufacturer

Montana Tractors says it’s still looking to hire more people for its tractor manufacturing operation in Tarboro, as the company also looks to merge with another farm equipment maker.

Tony Pearce, director of operations for Montana Tractors’ manufacturing facility on Fairview Street, said that he is not sure how many jobs the acquisition of Branson Tractors could add locally.

The potential merger with Branson comes around two months after Montana Tractors executives announced the company would move its headquarters from Springdale, Ark., to Tarboro this summer.

Pearce said the company so far has 35 administrative and manufacturing workers at its office and plant in Tarboro. But, if Montana Tractors follows through on moving Branson Tractors manufacturing operations from Rome, Ga., and California to Tarboro, Pearce said he does not “know right now how many (jobs) it will add” to the local facility.

“We’re definitely going to have to add on some people” locally, as the company’s transition continues from Arkansas. Pearce said that “most” of the company’s workers who are making the move to Tarboro are currently in Arkansas.

As for the possibility of new jobs being added in Tarboro because of the Branson Tractors merger, Pearce said that Montana is “going to let the demand (for tractors and parts) in the market increase our manpower.”

If the manufacturing move is made for Tarboro, Pearce said the increased Tarboro operations would begin before January.

Montana Tractors said in a statement last week that it made “a letter of intent for a potential joint venture” with Branson Tractors’ parent company Kukje Machinery, an affiliate of the South Korean steel manufacturer Dongkuk Steel Mill.

Montana Tractors Vice President and co-owner Ted Wade and Dongkuk Steel Vice President Saewook Chang both said the move is an attempt to increase each company’s market share amid the difficult economic conditions worldwide.

Montana Tractors acquired the Tarboro tractor and parts manufacturing facility, and all of Farmtrac North America’s other assets, in a court-ordered auction back in November. Georgia-based Textron Financial Corp.and South Korean tractor parts manufacturer LS Mtron are still in litigation in Edgecombe County Superior Court over who should receive proceeds from the sale of Farmtrac’s assets.

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