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Digga News

Digga, Wright ready to break ground
June 20, 2012

On June 14, three Australians, employed by a multinational manufacturing company settled into their new home in Dyersville conveniently located a few blocks from the site of their planned 36,680 square foot facility. The new building will anchor the 20 West Industrial Center and is expected to be fully operational in 14 weeks.

Suzie Wright, Digga’s CEO of Global Operations, hopes to break into more ground than just that of Dyersville. In the three months since the Iowa Economic Development Authority approved development plans, Wright has traveled back and forth between company headquarters in Brisbane and rural America, hammering out details for how operations will run in the Western Hemisphere. It’s the first permanent facility the company has built in North America. (Part of the company was run in Kentucky 12 years ago before Digga struck a deal to supply Paladin Manufacturing, in Delhi.)

Wright’s trials have taught her an important lesson in what she calls “on-the-ground” communication.

“We probably should have stayed during the initial stages back in February,” Wright said. “Now, we’re probably about seven weeks behind on where we would like to be. Of course with the time difference, it was a little difficult. You can’t get a good feel for the person if you can’t see them.”.

Joined by Dominic Kassar and his 16-year-old son Jackson, Wright will be overseeing all construction operations. She will spend 12 of the next 14 months on location, smoothing over initial bumps customary of building a new facility. With approval from the city council for a building permit on June 18, construction is slated to begin next week.

In a sit down interview with the Commercial on June 18, Digga employees explained the role they hope to play:

Dyersville Commercial: It’s been a week now. How’s everything going so far?
Wright: It’s interesting with some of the language barriers. For example, “foot path” is what I think you guys call sidewalks, right? When we set up here 12 years ago, we ran into similar problems. Because we’re Australian, we don’t have credit ratings and such.

DC: No credit ratings? So what do you do instead?
Wright: Everything is done on the Internet. For example if I get someone to come to my house to do work, they give me their bank details and I just transfer the money directly into your account.

DC: That’s definitely not how we do it here. Anything else strike you culturally?
Wright: We spent about three hours in Hy-Vee just going through all of your different foods. People watching us probably thought we were a bit strange.

Suzie Wright, Digga president/CEO, says her company plans to have high involvement in the Dyersville community.
DC: No vegemite?
Wright (laughing): No, but we brought some of our own.

DC: Digga is to Australia the way (blank) is to the U.S.
Wright: Paladin Manufacturing. They’re the largest attachment manufacturer in the country. We’re the leading attachment manufacturer in Australia. Our screw anchor market is the core of our business. That’s what we’re here for.

We closed down our Kentucky branch because of the joint venture we had with the Paladin group. This development is on a much larger scale because it’s more heavily focused on supporting our current supply and expanding our excavative branch.

DC: How many people do you hope to employ at the Dyersville branch?
Wright: Over the next three years, around 30.

Digga president Suzie Wright, middle, joins Jackson (left) and Dominic Kassar as the first of several from the Australian manufacturing company. It will be the first to settle into the 20 West Industrial Park. Construction of the 36,680 square foot factory is slated to begin next week.

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