DUDELANGE, LUXEMBOURG — Based on Husky Injection Molding Systems' assessment, Luxembourg appears to be a manufacturer's dream location.
Husky has been building large-tonnage injection molding machines in Dudelange since 1985. The firm built a technical center on the same grounds in 1995 and has begun work on a hot-runner plant, all with the blessing and support of the Luxembourg government. Another two facilities could be built on the land Husky has available.
The grand duchy boasts good infrastructure, residents who almost invariably speak multiple languages, easy access to subcontractors in France, Belgium and Germany, and highly skilled workers, said Norbert Scheid, general manager of Husky's mold operations in Europe.
Husky's facility, just off a major highway, has nearby access to rail, air and even river transportation, said Claude Bodeving, sales manager for Husky's large-tonnage machine operation there.
Husky also enjoys ``extremely good relationships with local government and the local banks,'' said Nick Lewis, Husky's Luxembourg spokesman.
Luxembourg is eager to find jobs to replace those lost in the steel industry in the past few decades. Steel employment has dropped from a high of 38,000 to 7,000, Lewis said.
While much of the available labor force comes from that industry, even those highly skilled workers have had to make adjustments to Husky's team approach, Scheid said.
``Most workers are coming from a system where they are not used to taking responsibility,'' he said.
But, Scheid added, employees seem to be adapting to the Husky way: ``They are getting more and more used to making more decisions. There are a lot of little improvements coming out of those teams that have a big impact on the manufacturing process.''
Husky's team approach carries through to basic hiring decisions. Teams are responsible for considering candidates for job openings. Teams also train new hires and integrate them into the system.
The facility draws most of its employee pool from Luxembourg, France, Belgium and Germany, but other workers there reflect Husky's global customer base. There are eight languages spoken in the mold department project engineering section alone.
``The customer feels more confident if you talk with him in his mother tongue,'' Scheid said.
The charms of Luxembourg have beguiled other international businesses.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and DuPont Co. have big operations there. Little Tikes Co. has a Luxembourg plant. Nimbus CD International Inc. will begin producing compact discs at its new Luxembourg facility in November. And, TDK Corp. of Japan also has CD capacity in Luxembourg.