WSBT22 News: Utilimaster New Product Brings New Employment


Production began Tuesday on a new vehicle that could be used around the world leading to new jobs and a boost for the local economy. 

Utilimaster in Wakarusa has begun work on a walk-in van called "The Reach." It’s made of composite materials, is light weight, and the company says it is more fuel efficient. 



 “We believe this is an answer to what our commercial clients have asked for in the last five years,” says John Marshall, vice-president of Utilimaster.  “They look for a vehicle with a small diesel engine that will provide superior fuel economy." 

Utilimaster is partnering with parent company Spartan Motors, to make the units using chassis powered by Isuzu. 

“We do want to start locally and we do want to work with our major customers and our major fleets here,” says Tom Gorman from Spartan Motors, “but we have had interest from as far away as China and Asia in this particular product” 

The company has invested close to $2 million and plans to hire up to 45 new employees right away. That number will eventually grow to 100. 

Utilimaster says it feels the project bodes very well for the future of the operation in Wakarusa, a fact not lost on many long-time employees as well as those who have recently come on board. 

“Being the kind of truck that it is, there are going to be a lot of new people that are going to need to work over here. That’s good for the local economy,” says Eric Ziegler, who has been employee for eight years at Utilimaster. “A lot of our suppliers are located around this area too, so that’s good for our local supplies.” 

“It’s exciting for one and for two it’s a learning experience,” says Matt Beaudway, who has worked for Utilmaster for two years. “You know it will open the doors for a lot more things to come in the future.” 

Twenty-nine of the company's suppliers for the new product are from Indiana and 25 are in Michiana. 

-Ed Ernstes, WSBT