Beck’s Hybrids vice president Scott Beck (right) chats with visitors during the recent open house at the company’s new facility in El Paso, Ill. The facility will provide Beck’s with additional seed processing capabilities, expanded warehouse space and additional research and testing capabilities.
Beck’s Hybrids vice president Scott Beck (right) chats with visitors during the recent open house at the company’s new facility in El Paso, Ill. The facility will provide Beck’s with additional seed processing capabilities, expanded warehouse space and additional research and testing capabilities.
EL PASO, Ill. — Beck’s Hybrids hosted an open house Feb. 1 at its new facility that previously served as the longtime home for Pfister Hybrids.

The El Paso facility will provide Beck’s with additional seed processing capabilities, expanded warehouse space and additional research and testing capabilities.

“We’re really excited about being here in El Paso. We’ve been really welcomed very well by the community,” said Sonny Beck, company president.

The move toward purchasing this facility was an answer to the large growth Beck’s Hybrids has experienced in Illinois.

Beck said growth in Illinois “is actually surpassing our normal 20-percent annual growth that we’ve had for over 20 years now over our entire company.”

“Illinois is growing so fast that we just really wanted to put in an entirely new center over here to help service these customers. We were already doing research over here for the past six years at Down, Ill., near Bloomington with our Practical Research Farm,” he said.

“So when David Pfister (then-CEO of Pfister Hybrids) called me and asked if we’d be interested in purchasing the Pfister plant because they’ve sold off the brand, we said ‘Yes, let’s talk.’”

Pfister Hybrids was purchased by Dow AgroSciences in 2009. Since that initial conversation, Beck’s Hybrids made the move to purchase the El Paso site.

Beck’s personnel moved into the office and research facility in October 2012 and are in the process of renovating the office, as well as upgrading the research and production facilities.

“This summer, we will be starting on the processing plant. We will increase the size by two and one-half times, and that will give us about three times the capacity that it could previously do,” Beck said. “We’re doubling the corn capacity, and we’ll also now be able to do soybeans in there. Previously, they did not do soybeans at this plant.

“We’ll have additional storage where farmers can bring in soybeans that we had them grow for seed for us and also our corn they’ll be growing on the farm into this facility and have several days of storage there before it goes through the processing plant.”

“To keep in step with demand, our current customers wanting more refuge-in-the-bag products, higher volume and quality seed treatments, we’re going to embark on some renovations to this tower over the next 18 months,” said Scott Beck, company vice president. “By the fall of 2014, we can actually process this seed.

“It will basically double the capacity of the old tower. The upgrade will allow us to do refuge-in-the-bag packaging, as well as the application of our very popular Escalate yield enhancement system seed treatment.

“There will be a new dumping station for unloading seed and the addition of new equipment for the automated packaging.”

“It will be a year and one-half to complete this massive renovation and essentially just encompass the processing plant that’s already there,” Sonny Beck said.

“The processing plant is fine — it’s just not large enough. We’re just constructing a building that’s going to be 14 feet taller and a two and one-half times larger footprint over the existing building.

“We’ll keep the loading dock on the south side where it presently is for two to three years. At that point in time, we feel we’ll probably be moving it to the north closer to the office as we need to expand some additional warehouse facilities.

“You’ll just continually see something going on here because the company is growing by at least 20 percent a year in all of our areas. We simply have to be on plan all the time. That means you essentially double the size of your company every four to five years, so you’ll just see us continually doing something here.”

The opening of the shuttered former Pfister Hybrids site has been a welcomed site for the residents of this central Illinois community.

“The town has really welcomed us, and we have just enjoyed being in this town. They love us, and we love them and, of course, we’re creating new jobs and everybody is excited about that,” Beck said.

“It’s a great way for our farmers and customers in the northern two-thirds of Illinois to now have a place called home where they can get agronomic services, they can pick up their seed and all the things that go with a good seed company.”

Beyond the move itself, the purchase also draws parallels between two longstanding family-owned seed companies. Beck noted the heritage of the Pfister family at the location.

“They started about the same time or a little bit before we did. We were 75 years old last year, so it’s neat to be able to take over a family operation like that here and hopefully improve on it and be an asset to the community,” he said.

The El Paso facility provides many of the same operations as the main facility in Atlanta, Ind.

“It’s on a much smaller scale to start with, but every piece will be here that we do in Indiana,” Beck said. “We will have a research station here, but we will continue to do all of the greenhouse work and the technology breeding work at that central location in Indiana.

“But the Choice Trials and all of the trials that farmers see, we will be totally duplicating those here that we do in Atlanta.”

This marks the third recent expansion for Beck’s Hybrids, and Scott Beck provided some details of these additional moves during the open house.

The company is constructing a building on a 150-acre site near Henderson, Ky., that will host Practical Farm Research, distribution and also Choice Trials, as well as providing farmers with educational and agronomic support.

“As business has grown in the southern part of the area, we developed a need to not only have research, but also distribution. We plan to construct the building beginning the first part of this year and have completed by the fall of 2013,” Beck said.

“This long-term investment will allow us to better deliver the best-performing seed products to farmers in Kentucky, southern Indiana and southern Illinois.”

This will be the company’s first permanent location in Kentucky.

Beck said the company also has purchased land near London, Ohio. Located east of the Farm Science Review, along I-70 and U.S. 40, the new property is Beck’s first permanent location in Ohio.

Plans for the new property include conducting Practical Farm Research studies, hosting farmers for field day events, building a seed distribution facility and providing additional agronomic support for Ohio farmers. Ohio farmers can expect to tour the PFR studies by the 2013 growing season.