By Robert Nathan
Killeen Daily Herald
A company expansion that could bring as many as 240 jobs to the Killeen/Fort Hood area officially opened its doors on Friday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Killeen's Business/Industrial Park.
Longhorn International Trucks, based in Austin, is an Oshkosh aftermarket service and parts dealer, now located in the 4900 block of Roy J. Smith Drive.
The facility will serve the local Fort Hood military community, as well as the commercial truck and heavy equipment industry in Central Texas.
"By creating this regional service hub, Longhorn will be able to offer more convenient and efficient service for soldiers and their military's vehicles, as well as service the Central Texas commercial equipment market," said Terry Lancaster, general manager for Longhorn Regional Service Center LLC. "For the first time, the military will have a service center that exists exclusively to meet its Oshkosh vehicle needs."
The center will rebuild a large number of Oshkosh logistic vehicles returning from Iraq. It will be the service hub for the Army's counteroffensive force and will service vehicles for the Army's active component and reserve and National Guard units. The regional service center, an Oshkosh Truck Corp. service hub, is operating now with 92 employees.
Longhorn officials said the center will feature a parts department with both military and commercial inventories, and 32 service bays including a paint booth and fabrication and component rebuild shops. In all, its 45,000 square feet will include 25,000 square feet of service bays.
Tim Raupp, Oshkosh Truck Corp., vice president for logistic support, said many of the employees are either retired soldiers or former soldiers who used to be "on the other side of the fence at Fort Hood so they know how to run things."
Raup said the truck corporation based in Wisconsin has been working with the Longhorn Service Corp. in Temple, but wanted to open up a location in Killeen to be closer to Fort Hood.
"We wanted to have a first-class facility to support the troops over at Fort Hood," Raup said. "We're looking forward to having a long stay here in Texas as a Wisconsin firm."
John Crutchfield, president of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, said the regional service hub will have a tremendous economic impact on the city through more sales and property taxes and will "bring us a lot more business because of the way they do business through their relationships."
Eventually, the staff will expand to about 240 employees with average annual earnings of about $45,000. Technicians will be certified by Oshkosh, and the center will house a local and regional Oshkosh management team, a Longhorn announcement said this week.
"It's a great addition to the community in general and it's a great addition to our industrial park," Crutchfield said.
Contact Robert Nathan at email@example.com