Agri-Plastics, an Ontario-based manufacturer of calf housing solutions, has opened its first US production facility in Sidney, Nebraska. Three rotomolding machines are currently being installed, and the plant will be fully online by June 2018, according to Agri-Plastics owner Darren VanBuuren.
“Our new Nebraska facility will help Agri-Plastics better serve dairy producers and calf raisers in the western US, and help us meet the growing demand for quality calf housing worldwide” said VanBuuren.
Agri-Plastics is investing $4.5 million in the 159,000-square-foot plant, which will initially produce a new line of outdoor calf hutch systems called Flex Hutch™, according to VanBuuren. Other products to be manufactured at the Sidney location include calf indoor and outdoor pens, poly-farm equipment, and custom molding projects for various OEM manufacturers. The company currently operates two other rotomolding facilities in Ontario with a combined manufacturing space of 200,000 square feet.
VanBuuren said the decision to locate the new production in Nebraska was based on proximity to western dairy and calf-raising operations.
“Nebraska is the gateway to the western US dairy industry,” he said. “Once we’re up and running, we’ll be within a day’s drive of some of our major customers in Utah and Idaho. We can help them save on freight costs, and get product to them faster.”
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts praised the company for choosing to relocate to Sidney, and acknowledged the state’s close ties to Canada, which is Nebraska’s largest export market. “Our neighbors to the north have been one of our best export customers over the years,” Ricketts said. “We are excited [Agri-Plastics] chose Sidney for its first-ever production facility in the United States.”
The new plant was welcome news in Sidney, where the area’s largest employer, Cabela’s, Inc., was purchased by rival Bass Pro Shops in a $5 billion deal last September. Since then, hundreds of Cabela’s workers have been let go in waves of layoffs, causing economic ripple effects in a town with a population of approximately 6,800. VanBuuren says Agri-Plastics has already hired more than 20 employees from the Sidney area for manufacturing and production jobs, and anticipates hiring 40 more local workers in the next three years.
“We considered several sites based on their labor pool, transportation infrastructure, and ability to serve the West and southern Great Plains states,” said VanBuuren. “Sidney is exactly what Agri-Plastics is looking for, and we look forward to putting down roots here.”
Founded in 1995, Agri-Plastics is owned and operated by third-generation dairy producers Darren and Rob VanBuuren. Today, the company offers a full line of innovative calf housing solutions focusing on 5 life-sustaining elements to help reduce calf mortality and maximize health and comfort.