Iowa Feed Mill to Expand Production Capacity

 
Iowa Feed Mill to Expand Production Capacity

 A new feed mill is taking shape near Parkersburg, which will mean bigger production volumes for clients and perhaps a 40 percent increase in its employee roster, its manager says.

Sinclair Elevator Inc., which operates a couple of miles east of town, is building a 170-foot-tall structure that will virtually double the production capacity of its current facility on the property, from about 400,000 tons to 800,000 tons of feed annually, said Jim Lubbers, plant manager.

"Hopefully, next October or November, we'll be able to start manufacturing feed out of the facility, but we've got quite a ways to go yet," Lubbers told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

When finished, the new building will need additional employees -- perhaps 20-25 more -- to go with the approximately 35 workers now there, Lubbers said.

Workers from Younglove Construction Co., which recently completed the new Zinpro Corp. manufacturing plant in Shell Rock, already have come a long way on the project, running 4 miles of natural gas lines from Parkersburg to the new plant and pouring concrete for 24 hours a day over an eight-day period, Lubbers said of that process.

"Once you start that, you can't stop," he said.

The new plant will be able to turn out about 500,000 tons of hog feed in the form of pellets, with the rest as a ground or mash-type product, Lubbers said.

The main structure was completed Dec. 9, but there is plenty of construction left to do, Lubbers said.

"We've basically got a good start on things," he said. "We do have the main structure just completed, but we've got many more buildings to put along the side of it, such as a warehouse and receiving building. We'll have several more things to do and, of course, we have to put all the equipment in and wire it. It's going to take 10-12 months more to get everything finished up and done."

The new plant will replace one that went up around 1997, Lubbers said. The old facility will remain in place and serve as a backup, he said.

"Since it's in a different area, it's not hurting anything, and that will be a backup in case we have a breakdown or have any problems or we're fortunate to get the new facility to capacity," Lubbers said. "It will be nice to have it available if we needed it. I don't foresee that happening, but the main purpose would be as a backup."

Lubbers declined to disclose how much the company is spending on it. However, Jeff Kolb, executive director of the Butler County Development Corp. and the Grundy County Development Alliance, said the company is applying for some financial help with the project.

"I'm helping them with getting some state and local financial assistance," Kolb said. "They have an application into the state, and we are in the process of formally approving everything they're looking to do."

As of late last week, the application has not yet been entered on an Iowa Economic Development Authority meeting agenda, according to Tina Hoffman, IEDA spokeswoman.

Butler County will chip in some incentives, Kolb said, although he noted that it was too early in the process to provide specifics.

"We're probably going to do a property tax rebatement," he said.

How much depends on the redeveloped property's assessed value, Kolb said.

"I do know it's a multimillion-dollar project, and they have pledged 21 jobs," Kolb said. "They've been a good employer for many years, and we want to help them as much as we can."

The new facility will have space to store feed ingredients, such as dried distiller grains procured from ethanol plants; soybean meal; bakery products; and wheat midds — a wheat byproduct, Lubbers said.

The new plant will produce a wider array of products and even customize to the needs of a particular client, Lubbers said.

"Let's say, for instance, they can get a cereal grain product from Quaker Oats, if they can buy that product correctly, they may want us to put those in the rations for them," Lubbers said. Now, we're just so limited on space, we just don't have as many bins as we'd like."

That won't be a problem with the additional plant, he said.

It was just time for growth, Lubbers said.

"We've just outgrown those facilities, plus the fact that the vast majority of hog producers prefer pellets for efficiency, vs. a meal feed," he said. "We haven't had the ability before, and now we will. And technology has changed a lot, as far as different ingredients, as far as having space to handle and store alternative ingredients."--Jim Offner, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

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