On Friday, November 4, 2022 at Lincoln South Rotary Club, we heard about Kawasaki - the company and their support of refugees and immigrants. The speakers were Corporate Director of Administration Jason Hellbusch and Bryan Seck.
Jason started by giving us an update on Kawasaki - the largest manufacturing facility in Lincoln. Kawasaki was founded in 1876 in Tokyo, Japan by Shozo Kawasaki. They now have 5 separate companies and 102 subsidiaries with nearly 37,000 employees.
Worldwide they manufacture large oil tankers and bulk carriers, precision machines such as robots, motorcycles and other consumer products as well as parts for airplanes. They have also manufactured parts for rockets and the international space station and manage logistics of shipping parts and products.
They have offices and manufacturing plants in Japan and other Asian countries, Europe and the Americas. They had a location in Russia which has been closed.
Jason explained that, when Kawasaki decided to move to the United States it was because of the consumer products - there was a high demand for motorcycles. It made sense to make the products where they were being used to reduce the production costs. Why did they choose Lincoln? They were wanting a location with good work ethic, in the center of the US so close for transportation, safe environment, good school system, etc. Lincoln provided all of that plus there was an existing building available.
KMM - Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing USA - is in Lincoln and Missouri. In Missouri they started in Maryville then later expanded to Booneville which provided additional employees and an available building. There are nearly 4000 employees in KMM.
The types of products manufactured by KMM are Consumer Products (motorcycles, ATVs, etc.), Rail Car, Aerospace, and Engines (for mowers, etc.).
Jason highlighted that they provide economic benefits in the US for the work done through KMM. In 2020 they purchased a total of nearly $600million in materials from Nebraska companies (260) and others in the US (1200).
Kawasaki recently announced a $200million investment in the Lincoln facility. They have a railcar contract worth $3.6 billion for 1700 cars built for the New York transit system. The expansion will mean 550 full time positions will be added.
Bryan shared information about their employees and developing their workforce. 
KMM has welcomed New Americans beginning with the Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s. There estimate 15 languages spoken on the floor. They have partnered with Advanced Services Inc. (nationwide staffing company) to provide training to help employees with more than work details - benefits, bank account information, etc.
With a recent influx of refugees, they now offer more services. They provide classes and Lincoln Literacy tutors to help with their vocabulary. The classes are on the weekends and Kawasaki pays their time as salary. They provide more than just the basics to do their job - they provide a ladder to help people move up in their careers.
Bryan estimated that, of the new employees, nearly 25% of them are New Americans.


Jason Hellbusch

Jason serves as the Corporate Director of Administration at Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp., U.S.A. He has over 20 years experience at Kawasaki leading areas including, Quality, HR, IT, Safety/Wellness and more.

Jason joined Kawasaki as a Quality Engineer and is passionate about the quality of our products and the careers that the company provides to the over 2,500 team members in Lincoln. In Lincoln,

Kawasaki produces passenger rail cars for the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority, ATS, side-by-sides, JetSkis, and aerospace components. In addition, Kawasaki has two plants in Missouri, with over 1,300 team members combined, that produce General Purpose Engines for the lawn and garden industry.

Bryan Seck

Bryan serves as the new Executive Director of Lincoln Literacy.
He served in the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan as an English teacher and also taught immigrants and refugees in Washington DC and in New York City. In New York, he even got to teach in same room as Eleanor Roosevelt!
Bryan received his Masters of Public Administration Degree from New York University and evaluated federal youth suicide prevention and childhood traumatic stress grants while at ICF International.
During a site visit to Nebraska, he met his now wife, Janell Walther, and moved to Nebraska in 2011. Since then, Bryan launched the College Possible nonprofit program in Omaha, led the homeless student outreach program for Lincoln Public Schools, and served as the Director of Workforce Development for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development. With LPED, where he worked to link people from part-time jobs to full-time careers and participated in Prosper Lincoln.
He previously served as the Chief Talent Management Strategist with Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing where he led recruitment and retention efforts for almost 4,000 employees. He serves on multiple nonprofit boards and community initiatives including the Homeless Coalition, the Greater Lincoln Workforce Development Board, Tabitha Health, and the New Americans Task Force. He also delivers beds to formally homeless families through Spreetail's New Beginnings program.