VANCOUVER — With a patent secured in the United States, Ukraine, China and Australia earlier this year, on July 16 Vancouver, British Columbia-based Clean Seed Capital Group Ltd. inked a $13.1 million deal to acquire farm equipment giant Harvest International, Inc. from the Friesen family.
“Following the recent granting of Clean Seed’s patents in the U.S., we embarked upon a program to source a synergistic industry partner that could accelerate our growth and position our company to play a major role in the U.S. and international planter markets, complementing our SMART Seeder technology initiatives,” said Graeme Lempriere, Clean Seed president and CEO.
“One company stood out as a seamless fit for Clean Seed: U.S.-based Harvest International. The management team of Harvest International has decades of experience in manufacturing agricultural equipment and a clear insight into farming community requirements.”
Lempriere said Harvest International’s industry experience, proven technology and aligned core values made the Storm Lake, Iowa-based company the perfect fit. “We collectively recognize the significant opportunities to cross-pollinate our robust and industry leading intellectual property portfolios in the North American seeder and planter market.”
Founded in 2007 with a commitment to design, develop and manufacture high-quality augers and conveyor systems, Harvest International successfully secured patents for key components of its planter row units. However, to focus primarily on advancing its planter business, the company sold its auger and conveyor product lines in 2017.
The Friesen family has been in the agricultural manufacturing business since 1963, first as the founders of Meridian Industries, subsequently founding Friesen of Iowa, then Harvest International.
With a 75,000 square-foot manufacturing facility, Harvest International’s president, Byron Friesen, said the company has a proud history of farmer-focused innovations in agricultural manufacturing and intellectual property development.
“Partnering with Clean Seed greatly advances our technological edge,” he said. “Joining forces with a like-minded, tech-forward company like Clean Seed will allow our combined companies to deliver innovations not yet seen by North American farmers.”
Bryn Lukowiak, public relations specialist for AdFarm in Calgary, Alberta – which represents Harvest International – told Farm World when it comes to the company continuing to make its products in Iowa, “everything is business as usual for Harvest International.
“The joint teams will be evaluating and implementing strategies to produce more of the current product line at the facility in Storm Lake, Iowa, as well as planning new innovative products that will come to market over the next 12 to 18 months,” she said.
“Certainly, our patent issuance gave us additional comfort in entering the U.S. market; however, Clean Seed had always planned to grow into the planter market organically or through acquisition.”
Lukowiak said Harvest International customers and dealers can expect the same quality products “with such innovative, time- and money-saving ideas such as the patented tapered pins and bushings in our row units.
“Future products by our newly merged companies will continue to push the limits of innovation, quality and, ultimately, return on investments for our producers.”
Whether customers need in- or out-of-season parts or parts warranty, she added, “it all starts with our excellent dealer network. Contact them and we will jointly work together to ensure our customers have a high degree of satisfaction.
“At Clean Seed and Harvest International, our focus is the customer first.”
Chris Hurt, longtime Purdue University professor of agricultural economics, speculated that while Clean Seed will likely continue using the Iowa facilities, the company may not do the same kind of manufacturing there as it did in the past.
“We know that global companies (like the auto industry) manufacture parts in different countries and put sub-assemblies together in other countries and then may do final assembly in yet another country,” he said. “Working in two countries provides the opportunity to minimize the total costs of manufacturing and transportation.”
Lempriere said the strategic acquisition is best described as a “merger of two cutting-edge technology pioneers of the agricultural industry.
“Our combination will lead to developing robust market share, which will be protected by an international portfolio of patented, innovative technologies for both the planting and seeding segments.
“We look forward to accessing an extensive U.S. market and community, as well as executing on future plans to bring proven planter technology north into Canada,” he added.