The last six months have been hard on the employees at Impulse Manufacturing in Dawsonville.
But the long hours paid off Friday when one of the first bulldozers off the line at the new Caterpillar plant in Athens was displayed at Impulse. Its arrival showed the finished product to the workers who produced the parts to build the piece of heavy equipment.
"It's very interesting to see, after you form all these parts, where those parts are going and how they're going to be put together," said Jorge Alvarez, an engineer from Cumming. "It feels amazing to see my work and everything I've put into it."
Jacob Villanueva, a robotic programmer at the plant, was planning a trip to Athens to take a look at the bulldozer.
"Seeing it here is just amazing," he said. "Everyone was excited when we first heard about it, because we wanted to see what we're doing and how it all fits up. It's very exciting to see the product out here."
The Dawsonville manufacturer produces 235 individual parts, from brackets and fittings to fixtures, for the Caterpillar plant.
By year's end, the Dawsonville plant is expected to be shipping as many as 11,000 components per day to Athens, where 20-30 tractors will be produced on a daily basis, according to director of manufacturing Jon Baysden.
To meet the need, Impulse is in the process of a $7.5 million expansion that will add 50,000 square feet of space to house a new paint line and more than $5 million in equipment.
The overall expansion likely will create 75-100 new jobs within 18 months, positions Baysden hopes to fill with local workers.
"Our goal is to have as many people from Dawsonville working here as possible and Cumming and the surrounding areas," he said. "We're always looking for more and more people from inside the community to come in and work and have long-term relationships.
"And I understand we just had a high school graduation and what I want kids to know the most is if they come here and put in their time and work, it's really easy to work their way up in a business like this and stay here and grow."
Alvarez, who started out as an entry level hourly worker 10 years ago, can attest to that.
"I started as a brake line worker, and I got the opportunity to do engineering," he said pointing out parts on the bulldozer he produced. "This is one of the biggest projects we've worked on, and I'm so proud of what we're doing and very excited."