Question & Answers with
Ag Growth International (AGI)


Innovative research, acquisitions lead growth for equipment manufacturer

Through a long series of acquisitions, Ag Growth International (AGI), Winnipeg, MB (204-489-1855), has become a leading manufacturer of grain handling, conditioning, and storage equipment for the grain, feed, and processing industries.

Among the best-known manufacturers in the AGI fold are Hi Roller, Sioux Falls, SD; Union Iron, Decatur, IL, Tramco, Wichita, KS; Airlanco, Falls City, NE; and Westeel, Winnipeg.

In early December, Grain Journal reached David Wernsing, recently named AGI Director of North American Commercial Sales, to interview him about recent developments, prospects, and challenges for the Canadian-based conglomerate. Wernsing is based at Union Iron’s office in Decatur.

What’s New

In personnel developments, Gary Anderson, CEO and co-founder of AGI, announced his retirement in October 2015 and the appointment of AGI President Tim Close to the position effective Jan. 1, 2016.

Later that month AGI announced the expansion of its sales force with the development of a North American-focused commercial sales team. Led by Wernsing, the team consists of 12 representatives based in the United States and two based in Canada. The team will support AGI’s full commercial product line.

AGI also opened up three new facilities during 2015:

  • Union Iron’s new 135,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Decatur replaced two existing manufacturing sites and united all the production and office personnel under one roof.
  • Hi Roller’s 120,000-square-foot facility in Sioux Falls, SD now includes a new powder coat line with state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, in addition to ample space for future growth.
  • The new AGI Innovation Centre in Winnipeg offers AGI’s research and development team a collaborative environment to develop and test cutting-edge technology to serve worldwide agriculture better. The new facility offers over 12,500 square feet of office, shop, and storage space.

In May 2015, AGI completed its acquisition of the Westeel division from Vicwest, along with PTM Technology. Westeel is Canada’s leading provider of grain storage solutions offering a wide range of on-farm and commercial products. PTM Technology is a leader in the design and manufacturing of grain handling equipment, including chain and belt conveyors, bucket elevators, and filters for intake pits.

What’s Hot

According to Wernsing, AGI researchers and engineers are working on a number of innovative products and services but is keeping all of them under wraps until GEAPS Exchange 2016 at the end of February.

Industry Trends

Several international trends provide potential growth opportunities for AGI, says Wernsing. Canadian grain handlers continue to expand rapidly and upgrade their infrastructure, while across the border in the United States, grain companies continue to expand both handling and storage capacities. Bumper crops in 2015 in the Upper Midwest, in particular, may spur further expansion of grain storage.

Abroad, the recent election of a more business-friendly government in Argentina may provide some new sales opportunities for AGI. At the same time, the planned repeal of export taxes may pur more grain on international markets driving down prices.

Industry Challenges

Extreme drought in 2015 in western Canada and for the past several years in the western United States has been a drag on sales in those regions.

Overseas, unstable political conditions, notably continued unrest and fighting in Ukraine, have been a challenge for grain handling equipment sales.

Keys to Success

It’s important to build customer relationships continually, says Wernsing, and AGI does that by understanding the customer’s needs and expectations.

Another key to success is continuous growth. According to Wernsing, AGI has and will continue to do that through carefully planned acquisitions, and now with AGI’s new Innovation Centre, AGI will do it through the addition of new products, as well.

Reprinted from Grain Journal January/February 2016 Issue

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Winnipeg, MB

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