Ag Growth International officially opens manufacturing facility
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,
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.