BrettYoung opened its new seed-treating and -coating facility at its headquarters just outside of Winnipeg Oct. 28.
It’s the single biggest investment the 80-year-old, family-owned company has ever made, BrettYoung chief executive officer Calvin Sonntag said in an interview.
“It signals our ongoing commitment to agriculture and to customers and supplier-partners,” he said.
“This investment puts BrettYoung on the leading edge of the ability to apply new coating treatments, new fungicides and insecticides (and) biologicals, which are becoming a more important part of the treatment mix. I think farmer-customers and our customers can have confidence that BrettYoung is well positioned to meet their needs on a go-forward basis.”
Sonntag declined to say specifically how much the new facility cost, but agreed it would be several millions of dollars. As a privately held business, BrettYoung isn’t required to release its financial statements.
The new 28,000-square-foot facility can treat 50 million tonnes of seed a year, pumping out 12 bags of seed a minute and a pallet of seed bags every four minutes. Part of that efficiency comes from having a robot to load pallets.
Half the facility is heated and the rest is cold storage and office. The facility can store 30,000 bushels of seed.
There’s room for another seed-processing line and, if necessary, for more buildings, said BrettYoung’s chief operating officer Cory Baseraba.
“Coatings have grown to become a very important part of our seed business,” he said.
BrettYoung started treating and coating seed eight years ago at a facility in Saskatoon, but it couldn’t keep up with the growing demand, he said.
With an automated, centrifugal rotary batch coating system, BrettYoung can coat or pelletize any seed.
The new facility will meet and exceed new standards for seed-treating facilities being set by the Agrichemical Warehousing Standards Association to take effect in 2017, Baseraba said.
The facility was designed in 2012 and approved by BrettYoung in April 2013. Construction began last August.
The facility will eventually employ eight to 10 people.
BrettYoung was founded in 1934 and purchased by Peter Dyck in 1975. Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of ownership by the Dyck family. There are no plans to sell, Sonntag said.
“If you know Lloyd and his immediate family they are pretty passionate about it being a family-owned, Canadian-owned company,” Sonntag said.
“He has had a number of knocks on the doors of people interested in acquiring the business and it’s pretty easy for him to come to the one conclusion — no thanks. He is really passionate about turning it over to the next generation of Dycks.”
Part of BrettYoung’s success comes through working with other family-owned companies. One of them is German-based NPZ, — half-owner of DL Seeds, which develops canola for the Canadian market. A mostly farmer-owned German company called DSV owns the other half.
“We have a strategic partnership with DL Seeds, a long-term partnership,” Sonntag said.
BrettYoung’s share of Canada’s canola seed market has doubled in the last five years, he added.
“Our canola business is doing very well,” Sonntag said.
“We’re pretty darn excited about the canola portfolio we have today and the portfolio we’ll have to offer to our retailers and farmers in the very near future.”
Although DL Seeds’ Canadian headquarters is near Morden, Man., it also has a research facility at BrettYoung’s headquarters.
DL Seeds’ general manager Kevin McCallum announced last week the company is investing $1 million to build a two-chamber, 2,500-square-foot greenhouse at BrettYoung’s headquarters, plus a 1,700-square-foot workspace for employees.
“This investment will help DL Seeds remain competitive in the canola-breeding landscape to allow the company to do further work on our mission statement of developing profitable canola hybrids for western Canadian farmers,” McCallum said. “DL Seeds is not only investing in new facilities, but its employees to give them better tools to carry out day-to-day activities that are so highly important to the success of our company. The new greenhouse will allow us to increase the number of hybrids that are created in a more environmentally friendly and efficient way.”
Work on the greenhouse was expected to be done this week.
DL Seeds canolas are sold through BrettYoung and Canterra, accounting for about one million acres of canola in Western Canada.
DL Seeds’ parent companies are among the biggest canola seed suppliers in Europe, McCallum said.