Plymouth site chosen for new joint agronomy plant

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff


KETTLE-LAKES CO-OPERATIVE Board President Jack Hanke presents information on the proposed joint agronomy facility KLC plans to build with the Country Visions Co-operative in Plymouth to the KLC annual meeting earlier this month. — Photo courtesy The Sounder, Random Lake KETTLE-LAKES CO-OPERATIVE Board President Jack Hanke presents information on the proposed joint agronomy facility KLC plans to build with the Country Visions Co-operative in Plymouth to the KLC annual meeting earlier this month. — Photo courtesy The Sounder, Random Lake PLYMOUTH – The city’s southeast industrial park will be the future site of a new co-operative agronomy facility.

Plans for the yet-to-be-named joint venture between the Random Lake-based Kettle-Lakes Co-op and Country Visions Co-operative, based in Reedsville, were announced earlier this month at the Kettle- Lakes annual meeting in Random Lake.

The $4.5 to $5 million state-of-the-art facility will be located on a 25-acre parcel at the northeast corner of County PP and Willow Road. Groundbreaking is planned for this spring, with the new plant opening in the spring of 2018.

The new plant, which will offer seed, fertilizer, crop protection and other services, will consolidate services now provided at a number of different, smaller facilities throughout the area by the two co-operatives.

“We want to become more efficient and serve our farmers better,” Kettle-Lakes General Manager Mark Mentink said of the proposed new plant.

Kettle-Lakes currently has no room for expansion at its other facilities in Sheboygan County, Mentink explained.

A grain facility just south of Random Lake is located on 20-acre site, but 14 of those acres are classified as wetland, effectively blocking expansion there.

The KLC Sheboygan Falls facility is located in an urban area within the city and would not be a logical location for the agron- omy plant. There is also no room for expansion at the current feed mill and agronomy site in Random Lake or at the grain storage site north of Cedar Grove.

Likewise, the other partner in the new venture, Country Visions Co-op, also needs to replace several older agronomy plants that serve Sheboygan County, according to Country Visions CEO Steve Zutz.

“After we’re running (in Plymouth) we’ll sunset out some facilities,” Mentink told the KLC annual meeting. “Our goal is to retain our good employees who will be working with modern equipment.”

Kettle- Lakes’ current agronomy facilities in Sheboygan Falls and Random Lake would be phased out starting next spring after the new plant is up and running.

The Plymouth plant would be centrally located for customers served by Kettle-Lakes.

“It is really a nice location,” KLC Board President Jack Hanke said of the proposed Plymouth plant. “We really feel confident that we made some good decisions here. Our neighbors are all cheese storage facilities.”

Among the benefits of the new location is that it is located on the newly-restored Wisconsin and Southern rail line from Plymouth to Sheboygan Falls, Kettle- Lakes members were told.

Addit ionally, truck access to State 57 will be easier at the new location than at the Random Lake agronomy plant it will replace, with traffic lights at the nearby intersection of County PP and State 57. Mentink noted that truck access to State 57 from the current Random Lake plant can be difficult at times.

Kettle-Lakes has been operating a joint petroleum venture with Adell Cooperative – Co-Energy Alliance – since 2000. The agronomy plant in Plymouth will be a 50-50 joint venture with Country Visions.

The Reedsville-based cooperative will be opening a new agronomy facility at Wrightstown in Brown County this spring. It includes an 11,000-ton dry fertilizer plant with two fertilizer blenders, liquid mixing and loading, seed storage, shop and offices.

Officials said the new Plymouth plant could be similar to the Wrightstown facility.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for Kettle-Lakes Cooperative,” Hanke said of the Plymouth proposal. “It’s progress. We want to make good decisions for years to come – it’s just looking to the future.”

Mentink said there are no plans for a merger of the two co-ops at this time, but added that there is a clause in the joint venture agreement that would allow a full merger at some future point.

However, according to Mentink, such a merger would require informational meetings and approval from the membership of both co-operatives.

While the partners have completed the purchase of the land in the Plymouth Industrial Park for the new facility, they must still submit a site plan for approval to the Plymouth Plan Commission. The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 2.

Some of the information for this article came from the Random Lake Sounder


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