With the company enjoying the effects of a strong global market – much of it driven by the success of its booming excavator product line, it was fitting that Volvo CE should this week celebrate two decades of excavator production at its Korean manufacturing facility in Changwon. At an event at the factory, Volvo CE President Melker Jernberg thanked the 2,200 employees, business suppliers and customers for their commitment over the last two decades, and highlighted the importance of excavators to the future success of the company.
1998 and all that
Volvo CE acquired the construction equipment business of Samsung Heavy Industries at a difficult time for the Korean economy. Shaken by the after-effects of the Asian Financial Crisis, the outlook was far from certain. But neither the company nor the workers had any reason for concern. Since the acquisition Volvo CE has surpassed its original objective to triple production – today production is four times higher, while profitability has jumped five times.
“The foundation of Volvo CE Korea 20 years ago is regarded as one of the most successful acquisitions in Volvo’s history,” said Volvo CE President Melker Jernberg. “Not only did it boost South Korea’s economic credibility at a time of global financial uncertainty, but it established Volvo CE’s position as a market leader in excavator production. Since that time, we have grown the business to unprecedented levels with innovation, technology and productivity at the heart of our operations.”
Volvo CE now exports excavators to 120 countries worldwide from its Changwon Plant, a factory that accounts for more than half of the company’s global excavator production. As of June 2018, the plant had produced 200,000 excavators, and exports have surged 10-fold since 1998.
SungMo (SM) Yang, Vice President of Excavator Business Platform at Volvo CE and Country Management Team Leader of Volvo CE Korea, said: “The Changwon Plant has demonstrated remarkable growth, firmly establishing itself as a stable and leading global manufacturer in an ever-changing construction equipment industry. Thanks to 20 years of innovation, an outstanding work force and continued cooperation with local suppliers, we are set to continue this growth well into the future.”
Image 1: Swedish Ambassador to South Korea Jakob Hallgren (centre) with union leaders (first and second left) and Volvo CE executives SM Yang, Vice President of Excavator Business Platform, (third left), President Melker Jernberg (third right) and Diana Niu, Senior Vice President of Human Resources (second right), and JW Choi, Vice President of Changwon Operations (first right)
Image 2: Senior leaders gather in Changwon for the celebration.