You would need a very big sandbox to play with Komatsu America's dump trucks and dozers. The company, a subsidiary of Japanese construction equipment giant Komatsu (#2 worldwide after Caterpillar), manufactures, sells, and maintains earthmoving machinery for the North American construction and mining markets. Komatsu America divides its operations into utility equipment (compact construction equipment) and mining systems. Its products include dump trucks, backhoes, crushers, graders, hydraulic excavators, crawler carriers, wheel loaders, bulldozers, and a computer-based mine management system. The company also provides financing, and rents and sells equipment through its sales subsidiaries and distributors.
Komatsu America began operations in 1970. Since then the company has expanded to about a dozen facilities in North America, set up to manufacture and remanufacture, train, market, finance, and distribute the Komatsu lineup. More than 90% of the equipment sold is made and/or assembled in the US. (The balance is imported from Japan.)
Komatsu America's mining division is North America's second largest supplier of mining equipment, from hydraulic excavators to wheel loaders and crawler carriers. The Komatsu utility division supplies construction, utility, and rental products, including the Komatsu loader, dozer, truck, shovel, grader, and modular mining lines. The equipment industry is courted through an ongoing series of product launches touted for optimized productivity, operator comfort, and added-value applications. Among several entrants, the company is rolling out its hybrid hydraulic excavator, distinguished not only for its muscle, but for fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions. A 30-ton class hybrid hydraulic excavator and wheel loader for mining applications are following.
The impact of North American demand (or lack of it) is palpable; the region accounts for about 10% of the Komatsu parent's sales. The economic recession and accompanying slump in housing starts and infrastructure development during 2009 and 2010 eroded North American sales of construction equipment by 20% and almost 50%, respectively. The company increased the price tag of its equipment as well as trimmed inventories on distributor lots. Komatsu has also responded by consolidating its sales operations and production facilities; the Candiac Manufacturing Operation, Forklift USA, and Komatsu Forest have shuttered, with work transferred to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Newberry South Carolina.
In the meantime, Komatsu America looked south of the boarder and acquired a 40% state in Peru-based Mitsui Maquinarias Peru S.A., a distributor of construction machinery, from Mitsui & Co., Ltd. The deal looks to snatch a share of the growing South American mining market away from Caterpillar's control. The company has established a footprint in Asia, as well, where it exports mining trucks and support equipment to China. – less