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Bobcat continues to expand in the upper Midwest and across the country

A Q&A with Nicol Winkelman, the company's vice president of human resources.

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A Bobcat employee is seen at work at one of the company's plants, this one in Gwinner N.D.
Image: Courtesy of Bobcat Co.
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A few years ago, Doosan Bobcat opened its new North American headquarters in West Fargo. At the time, Gov. Doug Burgum attended the ceremony and said he was impressed by what the company was doing.

“Bobcat continues to invest in these communities and continues to invest in creating jobs and building new innovation. It’s fantastic,” he said on May 31, 2017. They are “the 21st century jobs that any state would love to have and we’re excited to have Doosan Bobcat here in North Dakota.”

Jump ahead to 2022, when Bobcat continues to innovate and grow. That’s good news for any business no matter when it happens, of course, but it is especially impressive during a global pandemic.

In summer 2021, for instance, it completed the expansion of its production facility in Litchfield, Minnesota. The $26 million expansion project nearly tripled the size of the facility that was originally built in the 1990s, going from 70,000 square feet to 200,000 square feet. And this year it expanded its plant in Rogers, Minnesota.

What might be more impressive is that its employee headcount has grown significantly.

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Nicol Winkelman, vice president of human resources, Bobcat Co.
Nicol Winkelman, vice president of human resources, Bobcat Co.
Image: Courtesy of Bobcat Co.

“Bobcat employs more than 3,500 people in North Dakota, 335 people in Minnesota, and more than 4,800 nationwide. We have experienced strong employee growth over the last three years,” said Nicol Winkelman, vice president of human resources.

“For example, the company experienced an overall 30% growth in headcount across all locations. Locally, the growth in Fargo is even more impressive with a 43% increase in employees and, more specifically, a 52% increase in young professionals joining our teams.”

Winkelman said Bobcat, founded in 1958 with locations in several states, enjoys a proud legacy of innovation, serving as a community partner and empowering people to achieve lofty goals. If there were only one mark of its success – but there are many – it would be its employee growth and retention efforts.

“For all employees, we offer an experience that encourages growth and development throughout their career. Employees enjoy a strengths-based culture, development opportunities, interesting projects, supportive teammates and leaders, modern facilities, rewarding benefits and more,” she said. “Employees consistently note the pride they have in working for Bobcat where they are building their career and are part of an incredible brand that empowers people to accomplish more.”

Bobcat Co. headquarters
Bobcat Co. headquarters in West Fargo, N.D.
Image: Courtesy of Bobcat Co.

Winkelman answered a number of questions for Prairie Business, giving a peek at the company and its operations:

The company said it was seeking to fill about 100 jobs after the completion of its expanded Litchfield plant. Have those jobs been filled? What types of positions, primarily? 

At the start of the construction project at Litchfield, Bobcat employed about 100 people in production, manufacturing engineering and operations. Today, we have more than 260 (with salaried employees, a total of 318) employees at the Litchfield factory and have added fabricator, welder, assembler and material handler positions.

What type of jobs is the company wanting to fill at its Rogers plant?

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Our initial focus in 2022 is on hiring material handlers, assemblers and warehouse associates for multiple shifts at the Rogers facility. We are also adding 11 salaried workforce positions, including positions in operations leadership, manufacturing and quality engineers, human resources, safety and maintenance mechanics.

What are some tools or other means Bobcat uses to attract new employees?

One of our strategies is to attract, hire, develop and retain students and young professionals. The vision of our student program is to hire a diverse group of students into a variety of functions within the business to cultivate early talent, inspire innovation and address the workforce skills gap for future growth. We promote from within and take pride in transitioning bright and capable students into full-time positions.

Currently, across 11 Bobcat facilities, we have opportunities for more than 250 students to join our team in 2022. The opportunities are across most functional areas, including engineering, operations, manufacturing, procurement, data analytics, computer science, as well as commercial and corporate functions, such as accounting, marketing, communications, dealer relations, sales and more.

We also support students at area universities, colleges and trade programs with scholarship opportunities, and area elementary and high school teachers and students with STEM grants to use in the classroom.

What does Bobcat do to ensure employees know they are appreciated and valued?

Our success is powered by our people. We are a company where all employees are encouraged to bring their unique perspectives and experiences together to create a respectful, positive environment and engaged culture, where differences are embraced and celebrated.

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'We are committed to a culture that supports aspirations, innovation, open communication and collaboration. This culture creates an environment where employees can connect, develop and build a lifelong career, as we work together to achieve great results,' says Nicol Winkelman, Bobcat's vice president of human resources.
Image: Courtesy of Bobcat Co.

Regular employee development, communication and engagement activities are supported through internal platforms, company webinars, roundtables, town halls, listening sessions, as well as leadership development events, training programs, mentoring and robust onboarding processes.

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In addition, we employ a Total Rewards approach, which aligns recognitions with our competencies. This comprehensive employee rewards and recognition strategy is designed to promote the health and well-being of employees and their families, protect employee income, build financial security and help balance personal and work responsibilities.

We are committed to being an employer of choice to ensure Bobcat creates a strong future for our employees and positive impact in our communities in North Dakota, Minnesota and throughout North America.

What makes Bobcat a great place to work?

We are committed to a culture that supports aspirations, innovation, open communication and collaboration. This culture creates an environment where employees can connect, develop and build a lifelong career, as we work together to achieve great results. We want every individual at Bobcat to reach their full potential, which is why we strive to offer the tools and resources to support them on their career journey.

The company’s core values support our culture and serve as a guide to how employees and leaders treat customers, partners, suppliers, colleagues and community members. These core values also support our commitment to social responsibility, continuous learning, acting with honesty and respect, fostering the next generation of talent and making a difference in the communities where we live and work.

What are the company’s long-term goals and initiatives? 

It is an exciting time for our company. As the demand for our products continues to grow, we are investing in our people, technology, innovation and facilities, which includes expansions that increase production capacity and enhances our network of manufacturing operations.

This growth helps us offer new products and services to meet customer demands and creates more opportunities for employee growth and development, as well as the communities where we operate.

What new technologies and innovations is the company excited about? 

As an innovator in our industry, we continue to advance new technologies and alternative energy products, such as electric excavators and the world’s first, all-electric, T7X compact track loader that we launched in January 2022 at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES).

We also continue to make investments at our facilities to accelerate innovation. We have introduced leading technologies to the industry, including remote operation, object avoidance, LG touch screens, wireless communications, telematics and electric machines.

What else about the company? 

Being a good corporate citizen is something we value and take great pride in. That’s why we’re committed to supporting our communities in charitable contributions, scholarships and volunteer activities.

We support our employees volunteering their time and talents to make a difference in their communities, such as serving on nonprofit boards, committees and other community organizations.

This support to the community also includes hundreds of employees volunteering thousands of hours, equipment and funds to dozens of nonprofit organizations for Doosan Days of Community Service across all communities where we operate.

Andrew Weeks is an award-winning journalist who has reported for a number of newspapers and magazines. He currently is the editor of Prairie Business, the premier business magazine of the northern plains. The magazine covers various industries and business topics in the Dakotas and western Minnesota.
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