First DELL Computers in Tennessee -- 3-AU-99, Austin American-Statesman, Thursday, 3 August, page D1|
First Dell computers made in Tennessee roll off line
by Jerry Mahoney
American Statesman Staff
Less than four months after Dell Computer Corp. announced it would relocate its consumer and small-business PC division to Tennessee, the company on Monday produced its first Tennessee-made computers.
Dell and its 725 new Tennessee workers began producing two new Dimension models from the plant in Lebanon, 20 miles east of Nashville. It is Round Rock-based Dell's first U.S. plant outside Central Texas.
On Monday, the first Dimension computer produced at Dell's factory in Lebanon was set aside for Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist. The second was presented to Lebanon Mayor Don Fox for his office.
"I want it for symbolic reasons," Fox said later. "I want to be able to say we have a Dell computer at City Hall."
Dell took over a 300,000-square-foot building in Lebanon shortly after the City of Nashville and the state agreed to a package of economic incentives to bring Dell to Middle Tennessee in May.
The company expects to employ approximately 1,000 Tennessee workers by the end of this year and 3,000 within five years.
The Lebanon plant will be followed by construction next year of two more buildings near the Nashville airport that will initially house technical support, parts and servicing.
The Nashville area, chosen during a search of cities in several states, gives Dell quicker access than Austin to Southeastern hubs of overnight delivery businesses such as United Parcel Service. That is expected to cut delivery time to customers.
There were also financial incentives. Last month, the Nashville Metro Council approved a $46 million package for Dell that included property tax breaks and money for training.
Moreover, as the first major technology company in Middle Tennessee, Dell won't face the kind of competition for workers that it does in Central Texas, where it employs about 18,000 people.
As the Dimension division is shifted to Tennessee, Dell officials have said the estimated 3,000 employees who work on the Dimension in Central Texas will be retrained to assemble other types of PCs.
Dell spokeswoman Libba Letton said Monday the date for the complete transfer has not been set.
The Lebanon operations will produce the new Dimension XPS T600 and Dimension L500 systems.
The Dimension XPS T600 system, starting at $1,719 and featuring a Pentium III 600 MHz processor, is Dell's high-end performance consumer PC for multimedia capabilities including games, Internet design and digital imaging.
The Dimension L system, starting at $1,087, is Dell's entry-level desktop PC. It runs on Intel Corp.'s new Celeron 500MHz processor.
Three other lines are expected to be added later.
Dell Vice President Paul Bell said the Middle Tennessee operations are critical to Dell's growth because that segment has grown by more than 50 percent for the company in the past year.
Dell is ranked first in sales to small businesses in the United States and No. 4 in sales to U.S. consumers, he said.
"This is the fastest growing part of Dell," Bell said in an interview after the plant's opening ceremony. "Strategically, this is a very important move for us."
Tennessee is not only getting the Dell operations, but also the operations of some of its Central Texas suppliers.
Dell said suppliers that will follow it to Tennessee include Austin Foam Plastics Inc., Capital City Container Corp., Digimedia Inc., Copyright Printing, Ryder Intergrated Logistics, IPC Communications Services and Lone Star InfoSystems.
This article includes material from the Associated Press.