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Haas Automation Looks To Future And Offshore

In April, Haas Automation Inc. opened the fourth building on its 86-acre campus in Oxnard, Ca., and the addition gave the company 1 million sq. ft. of manufacturing space under roof. Even without that new building, there would be no denying the company's claim as the biggest CNC machine tool manufacturer in North America. It has more space devoted to the production of machine tools and it has built more—10,000 in 2005 and it is ontrack to build 13,000 this year— than any other North American manufacturer in recent years.

Haas has 283,000 sq. ft. of space devoted to its machine shop, 429,000 sq. ft. for production and assembly, and 210,000 sq. ft. for inventory and warehouse operations.

It elbowed itself aggressively during the past 23 years to the leading position in one of the world's top markets, and it had sales of $574 million last year.

Haas has built its success on a very basic concept—simplicity, and Gene Haas said in an interview June 9 that he intends to keep to that concept, building machines that are variations of the platforms it has established, and that they will remain inexpensive and easy to maintain. Gene Haas was interviewed shortly before he was arrested and charged with income tax fraud and with intimidating a witness. A trial on the charges - five counts of tax fraud and one count of witness intimidation - was set for Aug. 15, but defense lawyers requested a postponement to prepare for the case.

Haas Automation is taking its concept to other markets in the world: 42 percent of Haas Automation's sales this year are to export markets, but Gene Haas said he expects that 70% of its sales will come from export markets 10 years from now. "There are problems with manufacturing in the United States, but there are advantages too. The "Made in the U.S.A." label is a selling point in China, but not in Europe," he said. Robert Murray, general manager for Haas Automation, said one of the challenges that Haas Automation has is to remain competitive despite the high costs of doing business in the United States. It does that, he said, by relying on automation, keeping production processes uncomplicated and maintaining strict design and production strategies.

"We are the innovator in simple machines and in manufacturing. We think like a job shop and we keep it simple, fast, and to tolerance," Murray said.

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