Dave Sugden Named Director of Research & Development at Kawasaki Engines Division

Grand Rapids, Michigan -
Jun. 26, 2017

Smith, Zeilstra, and Ulmenstine also promoted.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (May 18, 2017) ---The Engines Division of Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. has announced the hiring of Dave Sugden as the director of research and development. An experienced industry executive, Sugden has had product development responsibilities for 27 years, most recently as director of product design and improvement at Scag Power Equipment.

Sugden will manage the growing R&D function at Kawasaki that has recently seen its staffing increase significantly, with new additions in technology, calibration, electrical, and testing, as well as supporting administrative personnel.

Promoted to new positions at the same time are Troy Smith, who moves up from applications engineering supervisor to become manager of R&D testing, applications and EFI, and JJ Zeilstra who becomes manager of new development and government relations. Zeilstra had formerly been manager, government relations.

Matt Ulmenstine has been promoted from applications engineer to his new role as applications engineering supervisor.

“These personnel moves put Kawasaki in the best position to continue to meet our growth objectives, and they signal the company’s continued interest in maintaining both internal cohesion and coordinated integration with our OEM customers,” said Nelson Wilner, executive director.

Wilner continued, “We are taking full advantage of our new facility capabilities and have been expanding development activities and growing our staff to be well positioned for anticipating OEM needs. In essence, we’ve supercharged our efforts as we plan for both the near and long term requirements.”

The recently completed renovation of the headquarters facility was partially driven by the company’s desire to migrate its research and development capabilities to Grand Rapids from its former location adjacent to the engine building plant in Maryville, MO. The 200,000-square-foot building gives the R&D function a larger footprint for expansion and it brings the varied components of the company into closer proximity, helping to achieve greater synergies between departments.

Sugden, the new director of research and development, has a wide range of pertinent experience. He has been involved in the establishment of testing methods and procedures, had oversight of compliance with ANSI standards and CPSC regulations, has involvement with various manufacturing methods, has designed an R&D facility, and holds 15 patents. His past work with suppliers, partners, and his distribution and sales channel exposure provide an ideal fit for Kawasaki’s unified teamwork approach.

The promotions of Smith and Zeilstra further enhance the group’s management team. Smith’s role will focus on guidance and technical direction for a team consisting of applications engineers, testing technicians, calibration engineers, and an EFI supervisor. Zeilstra will oversee the design engineers and design technicians, electrical engineers, and a government relations specialist. The combined Kawasaki experience of the two new managers assures a smooth transition as the company broadens its R&D capabiltiies.

Kawasaki Engines, a division of Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A., distributes gasoline engines for landscape, industrial, and consumer markets. The division is headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich. It sells to and services customers through a network of more than 40 OEMs, 15 distributors, and more than 7,500 independent dealers throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, select countries in Central and South America, and the U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific, including Guam.

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