Business

Diamond V to start production at $29.1 million plant expansion in early March

Cargill company prepares to ride wave of growth for animal support products

Storage tanks (foreground) for materials in the primary fermentation process in the new expansion at Diamond V, 2525 60t
Storage tanks (foreground) for materials in the primary fermentation process in the new expansion at Diamond V, 2525 60th Avenue SW, in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. The company is nearing completion of about a 100,000 square foot expansion which will consolidate operations from it’s facility in the Time Check neighborhood to the south facility. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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Cargill’s Diamond V is on the cusp of consolidating its two Cedar Rapids manufacturing facilities — a move plant officials say will increase the company’s efficiency in churning out ingredients to support health and nutrition in livestock and pets.

Diamond V on March 2 will begin production at an 100,000-square-foot expansion of its south plant, at 2525 60th Ave. SW, transferring more than 23 employees who now work at the company’s soon-to-close north plant, at 436 G Ave. NW.

The shift will mark the culmination of more than three years of work on the $29.1 million south plant expansion, for which workers started “moving dirt” in 2016, said Lori Flugum, Diamond V’s business operations and supply chain director.

Flugum, a 29-year Diamond V veteran, said consolidating the company’s local operations will allow its management team to better support the 61 production, quality assurance and inventory control employees under one roof.

The south plant expansion also will result in a more efficient manufacturing process compared to Diamond V’s 77,000-square-foot north plant, purchased in 1985, which Flugum said involved a “zigzag transfer pattern” in receiving and shipping out products.

“Here, you come in one side of the building and you produce it and you package it, and you ship it out the other side,” she said. “We learned a lot of lessons from the north plant that were implemented here in the design.”

Production began in 2009 at the south plant, which Diamond V expanded from its initial 63,000 square feet to a 133,000-square-foot footprint in 2014.

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At the facility, animal support products are produced through a proprietary liquid and solid state microbial fermentation process. During the process, specific microorganisms transform media components into metabolites, which are dried to a stable final product and ultimately packaged into 50-pound bags, 2,000-pound totes or bulk trucks.

Diamond V’s south plant currently is able to package a maximum capacity of 200 tons of product each day, said Patrick Manternach, the company’s director of operations.

Over time, with the plant’s expansion — which now has space to house up to seven more production units — that capacity likely will increase to 300 tons per day, said Manternach, a Diamond V employee for 23 years.

The animal support products Diamond V manufactures in Cedar Rapids include NutriTek and XPC Ultra for nutritional health and NaturSafe for immune support.

Compared to antibiotics, which can put stress on an animal’s immune system, Diamond V’s products contain natural ingredients that ensure each animal remains healthy from farm to table, said Stacey Jones, the company’s communications manager.

“When you’re improving the health of the animal all throughout the process ..., it’s better for the animal overall and better for us when it comes to our table,” she said.

Diamond V’s local products ultimately are sold to customers, including feed manufacturers and large farms, in more than 65 countries, said Manternach.

He noted the company expects to see growth specifically in sales of concentrated products.

Cargill CEO David MacLennan echoed this expectation in late January, telling attendees at an annual business luncheon in Cedar Rapids that the global agriprocessor projects double-digit growth for Diamond V.

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MacLennan said Cargill plans to invest $100 million in Diamond V, which it acquired for an undisclosed price at the end of 2017.

“The fact is, the future of Cargill in Cedar Rapids is one of growth,” he told the luncheon crowd. “We’re here to stay ... and we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the way that you support us and welcome us.”

Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

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