Ag Growth In­ter­na­tional of­fi­cially opens man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity

The Southwest Booster - - NEWS - JA­SON KERR SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

It was a big day for lo­cal in­dus­try as Batco Man­u­fac­tur­ing, REM and Ag Growth In­ter­na­tional ( AGI) of­fi­cially opened their new Swift Cur­rent based man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity on June 17.

Guests and work­ers en­joyed a tour of the 114,000 square foot fa­cil­ity on In­dus­trial Road af­ter a speech by AGI CEO and Pres­i­dent Gary An­der­son.

“It’s been a big chal­lenge, but a great out­come for ev­ery­body,” An­der­son said dur­ing his open­ing re­marks. “I’m very proud of ev­ery­body. This is a day to cel­e­brate.”

An­der­son’s com­pany is in­vest­ing $ 20 mil­lion in the new plan. Af­ter ac­quir­ing REM their old fa­cil­ity in the west end of Swift Cur­rent was deemed too small, ne­ces­si­tat­ing the move. Ex­pan­sion plans in­cluded new equip­ment, a brand new pow­der coat paint line and lean pro­cesses.

An­der­son says it’s a small, but nec­es­sary part of their plan to ex­pand sales into new mar­kets.

“Our in­ter­na­tional busi­ness has been grow­ing pretty rapidly in the last cou­ple of years,” An­der­son ex­plained. “We in­vested in a new grain bin plant out in Al­berta, and we got that op­er­a­tional in 2011 and since then the stor­age bin has acted as a cat­a­lyst for us to sell the other equip­ment. We’ve re­ally had a lot of suc­cess in these new mar­kets, par­tic­u­larly Rus­sian (and) Ukraine, but also other parts of the world.”

In­vest­ing in their Swift Cur­rent oper­a­tion wasn’t an easy de­ci­sion for the com­pany. They made the com­mit­ment in Novem­ber of 2012, while deal­ing with a fi­nan­cial down­turn drought.

“To in­vest $ 20 mil­lion in one fa­cil­ity here in Swift Cur­rent is a very ma­jor thing for our board of di­rec­tors to ap­prove,” An­der­son said. “Be­lieve it or not they ap­proved in in Novem­ber of 2012. We pre­sented the plan to them right at the height of our drought, so they agree with the long-term fu­ture that we see.”

How­ever, An­der­son said the in­vest­ment wasn’t just about busi­ness. Even though AGI’s largest and fastest grow­ing mar­kets are not in Canada, he said Western Canada is the com­pany’s “home base”, mak­ing a point to em­pha­size the area’s strate­gic im­por­tance.

“In to­tal there’s about $ 20 mil­lion worth of in­vest­ment in here. We’re very proud of that and com­mit­ted to in­vest­ing in the busi­ness here,” he said.

An­der­son wasn’t the only one happy to move into the new fa­cil­ity. So was Swift Cur­rent Mayor Jer­rod Schafer, who was also on hand for the open­ing.

In ad­di­tion to the fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment, the new oper­a­tion will em­ploy around 100 people,

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by and Schafer said that shows AGI sees po­ten­tial in Swift Cur­rent.

“I don’t think you hire staff like that or make in­vest­ments in a com­mu­nity un­less you be­lieve in the lo­cal econ­omy and the people of that city and re­gion.”

Orig­i­nally built in 1992, the fa­cil­ity has seen two pre­vi­ous ten­ants come and go, most re­cently Ur­ban For­est Re­cy­clers (UFR).

In his open­ing re­marks, Schafer said the loss of UFR was a tough blow to ab­sorb, but thank­fully not a per­ma­nent one.

“Nor­mally the loss of a ma­jor com­mu­nity part­ner like UFR can be pretty dis­con­cert­ing for a com­mu­nity, whether you’re los­ing jobs or you’re go­ing to have a big empty build­ing there for a while,” he said in his open­ing re­marks. “For­tu­nately for the people of Swift Cur­rent and this area there was an op­por­tu­nity that AGI thought was there.”

AGI man­u­fac­tures augers, con­vey­ors, grain stor­age bins, and grain han­dling ac­ces­sories, grain aer­a­tion equip­ment and grain dry­ing sys­tems. They cur­rently have 11 man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties in Canada, the United States and Europe.

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