Toro Co.'s irrigation business has consolidated its injection molding and mold-making capabilities in Texas and Mexico and kept its headquarters staff in Riverside, Calif.
Toro moved its manufacturing to be more competitive with Rain Bird Corp. of Glendora, Calif., and Hunter Industries Inc. of San Marcos, Calif.
``We were the only ones building a majority of our products in California,'' said Bill Hughes, vice president and general manager of Toro's irrigation business. ``Rain Bird and Hunter build in Mexico and had a distinct cost advantage. We looked at alternatives but couldn't be competitive.''
Toro has eliminated 400 production jobs in Riverside in the past year. A few people moved with the captive work, but most were not interested, Hughes said by telephone.
Toro relocated more than 60 injection molding machines with clamping forces of 30-300 tons to plants in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Now, the 100,000-squre-foot El Paso plant employs more than 600 and operates 70 presses. About 10 miles away, the 183,000-square-foot Ciudad Juarez facility employs about 800 and operates 50 molding machines. In addition, Toro is completing a 130,000-square-foot El Paso warehouse to store finished goods.
Toro plans to invest more than $5 million to remodel and modernize the 185,000-square-foot facility it owns in Riverside. Portions may be sublet. Toro is retaining about 160 people in salaried administrative, sales, engineering and research and development positions. Some employees have Toro tenures of more than 30 years.
Remaining in Riverside's airport industrial-redevelopment area and enterprise zone will provide ongoing tax benefits for Toro. ``The city has done a great job working with us to stay in this location,'' Hughes said.
The benefits include discounts on business licenses, utility savings and rebates on city permits, Kevin Palmer, Riverside economic development manager, said by telephone.
Toro of Bloomington, Minn., allocated nearly $10 million for the quarter ended Feb. 1 for restructuring costs, mostly related to closing the Riverside production.
Hughes said he is optimistic about 2003. ``We know we are going to grow the business,'' he said. Amid 2002's uncertain market, ``we had sales growth over the plan level.''