With 8 million acres left unseeded in
parts of Saskatchewan this season, it’s been a tough year for some
producers. But overall sales of new equipment remains relatively
strong across the west. According to management at Saskatchewan-based
Seed Hawk, domestic demand for its seed drills continues to grow. In
order to keep up with increasing demand, the company has just
completed a $7.5 million expansion to its plant near the town of
Langbank, making it the second addition the production facility has
“That growth has to come with
markets, and the markets have been good for us,” says Pat Beaujot,
company president. Part of the reason for that growth in sales is due
to its partnership with Vaderstad-Verken of Sweden, a European
implement manufacturer. Since becoming a minority shareholder in the
company, Vaderstad has taken over responsibility for most overseas marketing of Seed
Hawk products through its international distribution system, and it
has been selling those Seed Hawk products branded with the Vaderstad
Seed Hawk president, Pat Beaujot
(left), Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Seed Hawk vice president
Brian Dean cut the ribbon on the second plant expansion at the
company’s plant since 2008.
That kind of rebranding to increase
global distribution has apparently been a boon for sales at Seed
Hawk. It’s something that has worked well for Canadian companies in
the past. For example, Versatile used a partnership with global giant
Fiat to sell a limited range of its four-wheel drive tractor models
in Europe during the 1970s. Selling into a broad range of markets
insulates companies from local fluctuations in demand, like the
weather problems of the last two summers that have dampened demand
for new ag equipment in some prairie regions.
Seed Hawk’s partnership with Vaderstad
exposed the company to a lot of new markets. “That first expansion
(in 2008) was all about them buying into the company,” explains
Beaujot. “This one is about growing the company.” That growth
comes in part because the Vaderstad contribution has also helped Seed
Hawk build a critical mass in the North American market. “It has
strengthened our ability to do things here, as well,” he adds.
The Seed Hawk plant is one of the
largest employers in the region. It now has a staff of about 120
workers and is looking for more.
The new expansion to the plant adds
50,000 square feet, doubling the overall footprint of the facility.
And it allowed for a complete reorganization of the production
process. “It brought us into one facility. We were welding and
painting in the old building. Then the frames would go outside in the
mud and the snow and then they would take them into the new building
and put them together. The old building was really challenging. We
knew it (expansion) was a step we had to take.”
The grand opening of this phase of
expansion is not likely to be the last one the plant will see.
Beaujot says the company has long-term plans for growth and
incorporating new efficiencies into the operation. “In the next one
(expansion) we’d be looking at adding laser cutting and brakes,”
says Beaujot. “I think we can gain some efficiencies. We’ll be
looking at welding robots. We’re also planning on putting in one or
two robots in the bays here.”
Seed Hawk drills, like this one, are
now being built in the company’s new production facility, which
brings the overall size of the plant in Langbank, Saskatchewan, to
about 100,000 square feet.
When making its expansion plans, Seed
Hawk’s management has had the benefit of some friendly advice from
its Swedish partner, which followed a similar pattern of gradual
expansion. As a result, the design of the Seed Hawk building allows
for more construction immediately adjacent to the latest addition.
“This building is a flat-roof design, so our next expansion would
be going out 100 feet (from the new section),” Beaujot continues.
“Vaderstad told us, whatever you do, make sure you can keep on