Buhler pulls Farm King manufacturing back to Canada

Work to halt at Minnesota plant early next year


Winnipeg farm equipment maker Buhler Industries is relocating its Farm King manufacturing work back to Canada from the U.S. this winter.

After consolidating its U.S. manufacturing this summer into one plant at Willmar, Minn., about 140 km west of Minneapolis, the company said Thursday it will also halt production at Willmar in early 2021.

Buhler, which also has Canadian plants at Winnipeg and Morden, Man. and Vegreville, Alta., said Thursday the Morden plant “will now be the primary source of Farm King production” and other product lines now made at Willmar.

Buhler’s Farm King product lines include include augers, mowers, bale carriers, snowblowers, compact implements and tillage tools. The company’s other product lines include Versatile tractors and sprayers.

The company described the Morden plant, about 110 km southwest of Winnipeg, as “one of the original and most efficient Buhler Industries factories.”

Relocating the U.S.-made Farm King product lines to Morden this winter “will optimize output at that facility while capitalizing on the fluctuations in the exchange rate,” Buhler said.

In its third-quarter financials in August, Buhler had said it faced “unpredictability in the agriculture commodities market and fluctuations in the exchange rate, as dealers in Canada market several U.S.-based Farm King-branded products.”

Farm King dealers in Canada and the U.S. “will not experience delays in delivery of whole goods or service parts” as a result of the move, the company said Thursday.

Buhler has operated at Willmar since 2011, when it bought an existing 135,000-square foot facility and set up production lines there for Versatile sprayers and Farm King application equipment.

Other Farm King work was moved to Willmar this summer as the company wound down operations at its Fargo, N.D. plant and shut the latter facility in late September.

Shutting the Willmar operation also follows “further analysis of trends in agriculture and manufacturing,” Buhler said.

Following a run of four straight quarterly net losses, Buhler in August reported a small Q3 profit of about $462,000 on $76.6 million in sales for its third quarter ending June 30, up from a $1.17 million net loss on $64.1 million in sales in the year-earlier period.

The increase in sales stemmed from a “strong return to the U.S. market,” Buhler said at the time, while sales into Canada and Eastern Europe “remain below historical levels.”

Buhler, majority-owned by Russian harvest equipment maker Rostselmash, said in August it has made “improvements in manufacturing efficiencies,” but found “competitive pressures have led to reduced gross margins.”

Losses on foreign exchange and “decreased gain on the sale of surplus assets” have offset its cuts in research and development spending and lower interest costs, the company said.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic “will continue to have an impact on the company as farmers, dealers and governments work through the next stages,” Buhler said, but added management couldn’t provide guidance on that impact. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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Editor, Daily News

Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.



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