By Pauline Kerr
DuPont Pioneer celebrated the start-up of its new $15 million parent seed production facility in Morris-Turnberry, just east of Wingham, Nov. 8 by welcoming the whole community inside for tours, lunch and the official ribbon cutting.
And the company shared their celebration with the community in another way, through a $5,000 donation to the North Huron Community Food Share.
After three years, the plant is now in full operation (as of the beginning of November).
Dr. Ian Grant, president of DuPont Pioneer in Canada, said, “This really is a celebration.”
He provided an overview of the company’s operations, and how the Wingham facility fits into the big picture, stressing what he described as the company’s guiding principle: “Our success is based on our customers’ success.”
The Wingham plant is a prime example of the investment Pioneer is making to continue producing products that meet the needs of today’s farmers.
Said Grant, “Over the last five years, DuPont Pioneer has more than doubled the size of its workforce and its business in Canada. That degree of growth necessitates significant investment in infrastructure, including a $55 million investment in Canadian research and production facilities since 2008.”
He further stated the company expects “continued growth, more growth. “The new Wingham plant is a great example of our growth,” he said.
The 50,000 square foot plant features a cold storage warehouse, state-of-the-art automated seed cleaning and treating equipment, and a controlled dense-phase pneumatic seed conveying system to maintain the highest seed quality. The primary focus is production of parent canola seed that will be shipped to Pioneer locations across Canada and around the world.
“The Wingham plant is absolutely crucial… it’s a world class facility,” said Grant.
Dignitaries in attendance included Mike Oxley, president and chief financial officer of DuPont Canada; Bill Frank, DuPont Pioneer’s director of production, Canada and Latin America; Tim Weller, senior manager of production, DuPont Pioneer Canada; Paul Gowing, mayor of Morris-Turnberry; Lisa Thompson, MPP Huron-Bruce; and John Schut, business development consultant, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Oxley spoke of the company’s commitment to safety and the environment, and of its growth strategy of “solving some of the world’s biggest problems through science and innovation.”
Frank told the crowd at the Wingham plant, “It’s always fun to see the planning come to fruition with the opening of a new plant… it’s great to be here celebrating.”
Weller had been one of the speakers at the company’s open house at the North Huron Wescast Community Complex in 2011. At that time he stressed the company’s commitment to “do it right.” That goal has certainly been accomplished.
“We’re extremely proud of this facility,” he said.
Gowing spoke of how the project moved forward “in a positive way” and demonstrated a willingness to work with the community and be part of it, right from the start. He noted the community has already seen a positive impact from the plant.
“This kind of development is a great boost to the local economy,” he said.
Thompson said, “It’s a pleasure to be here… it’s just an amazing day, for a community to welcome a multi-national company.”
Schut stressed the fact the celebration was a result of “everyone working together… to accomplish great things.”
Plant manager Tim Martin served as master of ceremonies. He anticipates more growth at the Wingham plant in the future, with the addition of new technologies, more fields and more products. Some parent soy will be added to the parent canola operation – the plant has the capacity, he said.
Martin commented on how welcoming the local business community, and the community as a whole, has been. He’s pleased to have a Madill student co-oping at facility at a time when career possibilities in agriculture are phenomenal.
The Wingham facility presently employs 12 full-time people, with seasonal employees increasing that to 60.
About the plant
Pioneer brand canola products are first developed at DuPont Pioneer canola research centres around the world. New hybrid seed is sent to a location like the Wingham facility to be grown in fields across Huron, Perth and Bruce, developed and packaged, and then sent to many locations in Canada, the United States and around the world. The aim is developing higher yields and improved seed products for growers.