Diamond V breaks ground on new plant

August 23, 2008 07:00 PM

Diamond V executives John Bloomhall, Jeff Cannon, Mike Goble and Dave Lusson break ground for their new manufacturing facility.

Just 10 weeks after a 500-year flood inundated their Cedar Rapids, Iowa,  production facility and headquarters, Diamond V executives broke ground for a second, $26 million  manufacturing facility August 22.

Built on much higher ground in an industrial park southwest of Cedar Rapids, the 60,000 square foot plant is sited on 77 acres. The hope is to have the building enclosed yet this fall, and have the plant operational by July 1, 2009.

Diamond V produces numerous cultured yeast products for dairy, beef, equine, swine, poultry and fish. Diamond V's downtown plant will continue to operate, says John Bloomhall, Diamond V president and CEO. "The new facility is needed to support our growth both here domestically and around the world,” he says.

"Adding this new facility will allow [Diamond V] to meet the rapidly growing demand for proprietary products in all species of animals and aqua, and also enhance our ability to continue to bring innovation to the marketplace,” adds Mike Wright, Director of Global Marketing and Research.

Keeping the construction of the new facility on track was an incredible feat, considering that flooding of the Cedar River rose to 31.1' in mid June, completely swamping downtown Cedar Rapids. Flood waters rose to 8' in both the plant and Diamond V headquarters.

After the flood waters receded, the plant had to be thoroughly cleaned, rewired and pass multiple inspections before restarting operations. The plant was back in operation in eight and half days, with many employees working 12-hour shifts that often stretched to 16 hours. Diamond V headquarters had to be relocated to a temporary site while offices were completely gutted down to the studs.

In the meantime, the company pushed ahead with permitting for the new facility. "All of this was done when the entire city was operating under emergency conditions,” says Bloomhall. Re-zoning of the site for industrial use had not been completed at the time of the flood.

Recognizing the need to keep the plant building project on schedule, the Cedar Rapids City Council considered and approved all required permits at one meeting.
The ground-breaking of the new facility culminated with a celebration dinner for all employees to recognize their efforts in recovering from the flood.

For more information on Diamond V, go to www.diamondv.com.

Jim Dickrell is editor of Dairy Today. You can reach him via e-mail at jdickrell@farmjournal.com.

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