Trip of a lifetime to Cummins factory

Trucks and the transport industry have been a lifelong passion for Roslyn Anderson, who was lucky enough to embark on a guided tour of the Jamestown Engine Plant in Lakewood, New York, in early June. 

The trip was part of her prize for winning the ATA National Trucking Industry Woman of the Year Award in 2020, which was sponsored by Cummins. But due to Covid border closures and a hectic schedule, Anderson wasn’t able to take up the “once in a lifetime” opportunity – until now.

“It’s amazing to get an award and be recognised for what you’ve done for the industry, but to get this trip to go to Cummins, that’s the absolute ultimate. Because the awards were presented during lockdown, I actually found out I’d won while at home, sitting in front of the computer while the entire presentation was done on Zoom,” recalled Anderson.

“The trip was far beyond what I could have expected. It was such a fulfilling life experience. They are refurbishing a section of the factory at the moment and upgrading it with new technology, which was very impressive.”

Over the years, Anderson has worked for a number of trucking companies. Along with her current full-time role as an accountant at A-Civil, Anderson is also a board director at Women in Trucking Australia (WiTA).

Cummins’ Jamestown Engine Plant is located in a small village called Lakewood in the state of New York.

Anderson says she had a choice between two Cummins factories in the US and settled on the Jamestown plant so she could add in a quick visit to Niagara Falls. 

“It’s located in Lakewood which is a tiny little community. One of the Cummins employees Elijah Palmer who gave me the tour said he could actually see the Cummins factory from his bedroom window when he was growing up. He started out on the workshop floor and has worked his way up to a managerial position,” said Anderson.

Lakewood is home to approximately 3000 people – and the Cummins factory has around 1500 employees. “It’s situated a long way from the big towns so Cummins is a major part of the community,” added Anderson.

In fact, each year, the plant contributes around $1 million back to the community through charitable donations and employee volunteer hours served.

In May, Cummins announced the production of the 2.5 millionth engine at its Jamestown plant. It has also revealed plans to invest a further $452 million into the 998,000 square foot facility, to produce the industry’s first fuel-agnostic internal combustion engine platform that leverages a range of lower carbon fuel types, including natural gas.

Anderson embarked on a personal one-day tour of the Cummins facility, led by two employees, who she said led her through the plant from start to finish. “It was amazing to be surrounded by Cummins engines – I absolutely loved it.

“I noticed a lot of women were working in the production line. The transport industry is a good place for women to be. It’s a good place for employment, you just need to get a foot in the door – that’s the focus for Women in Trucking Australia so it was great to see so many women involved through the production process of Cummins’ engines.”

Cummins Inc. is now led by Jennifer Rumsey, who took on the role as president and CEO in August 2022. 

“There’s a whole wall that shows the company’s timeline from the start, with what has happened each year. It had all the photos of past CEOs and they were all male – but now they have a female, who was recently appointed,” Anderson added. 

On the tour she says she was shown so many different engine variations, covering on-road heavy haulage through to marine engines. “I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside the factory, so all my photos were taken outside and in the nice little showroom, where you can walk up and see the engines up close.”

Elijah Palmer from Cummins was one of the employees who took Anderson on her guided tour of the facility.

What also stood out to Anderson was the factory’s strong commitment to recycling. “They showed me the process, and as they’re building the engines, there’s a lot of metal that comes off, so that all gets recycled. As parts come in, all the packaging is recycled. And they also have a day where they get employees to bring in anything they want recycled too,” she explained. 

“Elijah Palmer from Cummins made sure to tell me when I left that all the women truck drivers from Women in Trucking Australia were welcome to come and have a tour – he said he would be happy to show them everything about the Cummins engines. Considering that WiTA has the fastest growing social media platform in the sector with 63,000 followers – an average of 1500 per month since WiTA was established – I think Elijah could have a lot to do!”

Now that Anderson is back on home soil, she says she’s hoping to soon get her truck licence. “It’s difficult being involved in an organisation like Women in Trucking Australia, where 99 per cent of members are truck drivers and I’m not, so now I’m looking to get my truck licence too.” 

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