DMG MORI to Relocate U.S. Headquarters to Chicago’s South Side

The move aims to address the coming need for engineering talent. Locating close to the Illinois Institute of Technology will provide access to students and expose them to manufacturing technology including additive, which was an important part of the discussion with IIT.

In a joint statement it recently made with Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, machine tool builder DMG MORI announced its intention to relocate its headquarters from its current site in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, to the South Side area of Chicago. No specific site has yet been chosen for the new building, but the company expects to locate its new headquarters and showroom on or near the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). DMG MORI USA president James Nudo says a temporary office will be established on IIT’s campus before the end of the year, and the new facility will likely be completed in 2021. I had the chance to speak with him about this move, the main reason for which can be stated in a single word.

“Talent,” he says. Ensuring a supply of engineering talent ready to meet the demand the company foresees is an ongoing concern. “We will need to hire at least 100 more application engineers in the next three years. Our customers want more automation, more process engineering, and we want to give it to them.” But this need places DMG MORI in direct competition with other industrial employers facing similar needs. Taking up residence on-site or in proximity to IIT will offer a way essentially to move to the front of the line, becoming a daily presence in the lives of soon-to-be engineers. Among the staff at the new location will be an engineering recruiter ready to extend opportunities to promising candidates the company discovers through its interaction with students.

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IIT, with its main campus located on West 35th Street in Chicago, is a private, independent research university with a total student enrollment surpassing 7,200. One-third of the students at the university are enrolled in its Armour College of Engineering, and among undergraduates, one-half the students study engineering.

“In our conversations with IIT, they wanted the things we wanted,” Nudo says. For example, they wanted students to have access to machine tools for hands-on projects. The machine tool builder aims for this as well, as a way of not just getting to know students but also expanding their awareness of manufacturing technology. Additive manufacturing was part of the discussion, too—a technology the university sees as key for its students to understand. DMG MORI, which offers both metal-deposition and powder-bed additive manufacturing machines, can provide this exposure.

Indeed, many of the company’s most advanced machines for the North American market are likely to be found in this facility. The new site would serve as not only the company’s U.S. headquarters but also its principal U.S. showroom.

The current Hoffman Estates facility will remain in use. In the new plan, it will become the company’s National Engineering and Automation Center. Today, about 225 employees work there, and given the expected growth of the company, Nudo expects that same staffing will work there after the new headquarters opens. He predicts 100 to 150 will work at the new South Side site.

The two locations will offer the chance to meet employees at different times of their lives, he notes. “We see people in their 20s today wanting to live downtown, live in an apartment. But then they get married, children come, and likely they’ll want to live where they can have more room. We’ll be able to accommodate both,” he says. Employees will be able to stay with the company and still have a reasonable commute as they transition from city living to the suburbs.

Additional advantages of the new location go beyond recruitment and talent. Access to university faculty and having the chance to assist in their research will seed ideas and spur innovation. There is also a level of efficiency and convenience for DMG MORI’s customers. “I think our typical customer flying in to visit us really wants to get in and get out the same day,” he says. The proximity to Midway Airport will facilitate this.

Then there is the proximity to McCormick Place. Every other year, shipping machines to the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) is no small undertaking. Located just a 10-minute drive from McCormick, the new facility will simplify supporting the company’s presence at the show.

One further benefit of the move relates to the city of Chicago, he says, and it speaks to why Chicago’s mayor has been a participant, supporter and champion of this decision. The South Side—not incidentally, where Nudo grew up—conjures negative associations in the minds of many, but this part of the city is being remade. There is no inherent reason why manufacturing technology companies have to continue to cluster in the industrial suburbs. “On the South Side, new condominiums are going up and the land is underpriced—this has the potential to be a new technology hub,” Nudo says. “With this decision, by putting our facility there, we could help start a renaissance for the South Side of Chicago. We’ll get to be there first.”

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