Driving Our Economy Forward: Komatsu

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — If you think operating big machines is cool, imagine what it’s like to work at Komatsu.

It’s actually one of the first Japanese manufacturers in Tennessee.

Komatsu talked to News 12 about how they’re driving our economy forward.

“Komatsu provides essential equipment for mining construction and forest industries, said General Manager Walt Nichols. “The Chattanooga manufacturing plant in particular we build mid-size hydraulic excavators.”

Nichols says they’ve been on Signal Mountain Road since 1985.

“It was such a big celebration you know because you’ve got these politicians, and people that came in and celebrated the fact that we’re breaking ground on this this new manufacturing operation,” Nichols said. “We were one of the first Japanese manufacturers in Tennessee, so it was a big deal, and so we worked very hard to become intertwined within the community.”

Even though Komatsu is a manufacturing plant building and selling products in North America, Nichols says they like to hire people locally.

“We’ve currently have about 450 on site, but a lot of the people in our shop and in our offices are local people that have grown up in this area,” he said. “From an assembly standpoint, we’re really looking for somebody that’s fit enough to be on their feet for a majority of their day. Also have good dexterity. And mechanical knowledge is a plus. From a welding standpoint and need to know how to weld. But those things we can teach.”

Nichols says Komatsu even started collaborating with area schools about a year ago.

“I’m happy to say that in August of this year, we kicked off a pre-apprenticeship program in collaboration with Hamilton County, Sequatchie County, Marion County Schools,” Nichols said. “We’re also one of the few companies in the area that has a certified apprenticeship program and collaboration with Chattanooga State. Those schools have great industrial programs. They’re doing a great job of educating these students. People tend to come and stay. They’ve grown up together. And they’ve raised families together. They’ve had grandkids together. So it really helps toward our family-oriented environment. We want to be a pillar and give back, and have people proud of that. I work for Komatsu to be proud of what we offer – not only in a product, but the things that we give back in the community.”


Categories: Chattanooga, Driving Our Economy Forward, Jobs & Economy, Local News