The U.S. Treasury Department has approved the construction of an equipment manufacturing plant in Cuba by a U.S.-based company. Grabbing the attention is that the first equipment to be manufactured will be a tractor costing about $10,000.
As would be logical to interpret, the tractor will not be a large horsepower unit, and, therefore, announced plans to produce other mid-size to small equipment for businesses is a natural goal. Equipment anticipated to be manufactured at some point, if the tractor project is profitable, are excavators, backhoes, trench-diggers and forklifts—all of which are not available or in short supply in Cuba.
The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette wrote an extensive article about Horace Clemmons and Saul Berenthal receiving approval for the $5 million to $10 million manufacturing plant investment in Cuba. In order to receive approval for investing in a manufacturing plant with ties to agriculture, the two businessmen stipulated that they will only sell to farmers in the private sector, which is an allowable exception to the Cuban embargo by the U.S.
Components for the tractors will be sent from the U.S. to Cuba for assembly. The manufacturing plant is targeted for completion by the first quarter of 2017. First target customers are Cuban farmers, and sales expansion will be to other Latin American countries’ farmers if things go as planned.
Berenthal’s background is as a software engineer who was born in Cuba and left the country at age 16. Clemmons is an Arkansas native who was at IBM when Berenthal was with the company, and the two formed a cash-register software company that they sold for a good return in 1995, according to the Democrat Gazette.