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Siemens exec Mark Pringle to retire March 31

Mark Pringle, vice president of Siemens Charlotte Energy Hub, at the manufacturer’s 450,000 square foot gas turbine production plant in a December 2011 file photo.
Mark Pringle, vice president of Siemens Charlotte Energy Hub, at the manufacturer’s 450,000 square foot gas turbine production plant in a December 2011 file photo. tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

Mark Pringle, who led Siemens’ Charlotte manufacturing plant through a major expansion, will retire March 31, the company said Tuesday.

Pringle, vice president of Siemens’ Charlotte Energy Hub, has managed the manufacturing plant since 2003. The $350 million expansion, unveiled in 2011, added gas turbines to Siemens’ existing steam turbine and electrical generator product lines, and doubled Siemens’ Charlotte workforce. The company now employs about 1,600 locally.

When Pringle took over leadership of the Charlotte plant in 2003, orders for new generators were slumping and the site had endured heavy layoffs, a unionization attempt and bad blood between managers and workers. Siemens was eyeing lower-cost countries.

The Charlotte site responded by attacking production costs and automating more processes. Workers were encouraged to take more responsibility for working efficiently. The site’s “lean manufacturing” techniques cut costs for building generators by 40 percent.

Charlotte moved from least- to most-competitive for that product among Siemens’ far-flung manufacturing sites.

A Pittsburgh native who majored in mechanical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, Pringle began his career designing electrical generators for Westinghouse, which sold its power generation unit to Siemens in 1997.

A Siemens spokesman Tuesday confirmed Pringle’s retirement but said the decision to do so was a private one for him.

Pringle is also founding board member of E4 Carolinas, a nonprofit focused on the energy industry, and a member of the foundation board for Central Piedmont Community College, with which Siemens partners for its nationally recognized European-style apprenticeship program.

Observer reporter Bruce Henderson contributed.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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