SynAgri plant opens in Chesterville

Local politicians and officials from SynAgri cut a ribbon July 23, 2015 to officially open the new fertilizer and crop protection product supplier on County Road 9, west of Chesterville, Ont. The plant will have 30 employees -- most of them full-time -- when it's in full operation. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

CHESTERVILLE – While there are still some finishing touches to be made, hundreds of people from the agri-food sector got to tour the new SynAgri plant Thursday.

The supplier of custom fertilizers and crop protection materials held tours of the facility on County Road 9, west of Chesterville.

It consists of three main buildings – an 11,400 square foot seed warehouse, a 7,800 square foot crop protection warehouse and, the biggest building, a 30,000 square foot fertilizer plant. There is also a sales and administration office and a garage on the property.

The fertilizer room allows SynAgri to custom-blend fertilizers using a row of 12 drop-down hoppers that mix the components on a conveyor belt.

SynAgri General Manager Sylvain Lavoie explained the building has heated concrete floors, special non-corrosive metal and insulated ceilings to stabilize the fertilizer ingredients. He also said the new technology minimizes accidents associated with silo storage.

The company expects to churn out 10,000 tons of fertilizer a year, which will go to customers and will also supply some of its Quebec plants.

At the back of the fertilizer room is the door which leads to the CP Rail line, which will be used for shipping as well, and can handle up to 10 rail cars at one time.

Over in the crop protection room, the building boasts approximately 400 different types of herbicides and insecticides.

The seed warehouse was empty Thursday as it was used as the main staging hall for the corn expo and the ceremonies to open the plant.

The original construction project was budgeted at $5 million but Lavoie said it cost them around $7 million due to a harsh winter where “we lost over a month” and also challenges with a new project. “We’ll be better for the next one,” Lavoie laughed, noting the company is planning on being in Chesterville for the long haul.

Lavoie also stressed their use of local tradespeople for the work. “It’s important to work with the local entrepreneurs,” he said.

Not only will SynAgri be churning out project, but also jobs. There are 20 people working right now – three-quarters of them full time – and when the plant is up to full operation the staff will be roughly 30, which will include delivery people.

Two employees moved from the Cornwall facility on Frontenac Street, which is being shut down. Lavoie said the building, which is on leased land from the seaway, will be torn down in a couple months.

SynAgri, which is privately owned by Cargill and Norwegian company Yara, has a fluctuating staff of 170 to 400 people company-wide.

During the ceremonies, Liberal MPP Grant Crack (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell) also announced the project had received $372,000 from the Eastern Ontario Development Fund.

Click on one of the photos below to open up a gallery of photographs and take a virtual tour of the SynAgri plant.

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