December 9, 2013

Coon Rapids

Syngenta has announced that Hartung Brothers Inc. (HBI) has agreed to acquire the Syngenta Coon Rapids seed production-and-supply facility.

HBI is a family-owned and -operated agribusiness and produces seed corn for Syngenta on a contract basis.

Early this year, Syngenta announced it would no longer operate its Coon Rapids site, effective the end of December, as part of a long-range effort to serve its growing North American commercial corn and soybean business through changes in its facilities mix. This fall, Syngenta selected an offer from HBI to begin negotiations for purchase of the Coon Rapids location.

Certain conditions must be ironed before the deal is final, Syngenta officials say.

The sale is expected to close by the end of December.

HBI is based in Madison, Wis., with locations in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Texas and Ontario, Canada.

"We are pleased to expand our seed operations into Iowa through the acquisition of this facility," said HBI president Dan Hartung. "The Coon Rapids team has a wealth of knowledge, and we look forward to adding many of them to our team. This site now establishes a western production area that we currently cannot offer our customers."

Doug Carpenter, a member of the Coon Rapids Development Group, said Hartung Brothers' representatives are expected to meet with Coon Rapids officials soon to discuss more details on the planned transaction.

Another member of the development group, Charlie Nixon, publisher of the Coon Rapids Enterprise, said more details are needed before making a final assessment on the local impact of the sale.

"I'm cautiously optimistic," Nixon said this morning. "It's better than not having anyone own and operate the plant. We're just waiting to hear Hartung's projected plans."

Syngenta, a Switzerland-based international agribusiness Goliath, in February announced it would be closing its Coon Rapids seed-corn-production and -supply facility effective Dec. 31, a move expected to cost 31 people their jobs in Coon Rapids.

This decision is not related to the other Syngenta Coon Rapids facility located at 615 Main St., which employs about 20 people in customer relations, company officials said.

HBI has indicated its intent to operate the facility for the benefit of its customers. Syngenta and HBI have a long-standing working relationship in the seed business, and this acquisition provides benefits to the seed industry as a whole, Syngenta said in a news release

"We see this as a positive outcome, as HBI intends to operate this facility as a seed-production plant," said Clayton Osburn, head of corn-production operations for Syngenta in North America. "This means that Coon Rapids will preserve an important, longtime business. The production-facility team there has performed at a high level with valuable knowledge, skills and experience."