Sask. seed drill maker in expansion mode

Seed drill manufacturer Seed Master plans to put $3 million toward two years’ worth of factory and office expansions and new laser cutting technology.

Norbert Beaujot, one of the owners of the Regina-area company, said Friday it plans to install its new laser equipment “in the coming weeks.”

Until now, the company said, it has contracted out the cutting of steel parts for its seeding equipment, but by doing so in-house, the laser cutter “gets rid of excess inventory and unnecessary handling of parts because Seed Master can now cut components only as they’re needed.”

Office and factory expansions are expected to take two years, beginning in June with a 3,400-square foot addition of office space, plus a conference and training room for farmers and dealers.

That’s on top of its plans for an additional 19,000 square feet of manufacturing space, which the company said will be to make way for increased production of seed and fertilizer tanks for Seed Master air drills.

“We’re running out of space as we hire staff to keep up with demand. And we’re building a lot more tanks as we continue developing new seed metering technology and unveiling new seed and fertilizer tank designs,” said Beaujot, a farmer and engineer from Langbank, Sask., about 150 km south of Yorkton.

“We have to add another 19,000 square feet of manufacturing space to make way for full tank production,” he said.

Demand for Seed Master air drills resulted in a 30 per cent increase in sales and production last year, Beaujot said in the company’s release, adding that he expects another 30 per cent increase over the coming year.

“We have orders placed for drills this fall already, so sales remain strong,” he said, adding that the company has protected itself from the credit crisis affecting other manufacturers.

“Many companies place large amounts of unpaid inventory on dealers’ lots, both in North America and overseas to help drive sales,” he said. “We don’t play that game. We never build a drill until it’s sold. So when the bottom fell out of the credit market, we were safe. If we hadn’t taken that approach, we probably wouldn’t be expanding right now.”

Beaujot said the laser equipment should also help accelerate Seed Master’s research and development work.

“This spring we’re testing new technology that offers farmers a simple and inexpensive way to avoid costly overlaps while seeding their fields. And we’re fine-tuning a device that redistributes the weight on your seed drill, so you won’t get stuck in the mud.”

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