Saturday 23rd Oct, 2021

Planting the seeds of global agriculture

AGI was founded in 1996 and is made up of brands with decades of experience in agriculture. Peter Forster, AGI’s Australian Business Manager, explains where it all began and where it is set to grow.

AGI was founded in 1996 and is made up of brands with decades of experience in agriculture. Peter Forster, AGI’s Australian Business Manager, explains where it all began and where it is set to grow.

One of AGI’s earliest and fundamental piece of equipment was invented in the early 1950’s by Abraham Plett, owner of Pletts Industries, the yellow and red grain auger, well known around the world as Westfield Augers.

It all started when Pletts decided to build a better auger after learning of the failed undercarriage design on the auger he resold to a customer. He improved upon the original model, and the first two yellow and red augers were sold in 1951. Over the years the company and brand name “Westfield’ has become one of the most recognisable for portable grain augers in the world. Just like Plett, the AGI Westfield team continues to advance and improve their augers from the Canadian prairies at their manufacturing facility in Rosenhort, Manitoba with the goal to deliver world class handling for farmers around the world.

From 1996 to 2004, AGI’s founders Rob Stenson, Art Stenson, and Gary Anderson grew their business through the acquisitions of complementary companies. Starting with portable handling equipment, AGI acquired Batco, Wheatheart and Westfield in 1997, 1998 and 2000 respectively. This expanded AGI’s manufacturing capabilities and help it gain access to an extensive dealer network.

In 2006 AGI strategically grew their product portfolio to include commercial machinery when they acquired globally recognised, Hi Roller enclosed belt conveyors. Founded in the 1970s by inventor, engineer and CEO Phil Clark there are now more than 10,000 Hi Roller enclosed belt conveyors installed all over the world.

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AGI’s founders understood that conventional belt conveyors can be dirty and unsafe for the agricultural industry. Grain dust can lead to explosions in facilities and pose severe risks to grain operators. It also presents environmental issues and can have high clean-up costs. These are just some of the reasons why grain terminals and operators are choosing Hi Roller’s enclosed belt conveyors for their facilities around the world.

The Hi Roller is completely enclosed, self-cleaning and reloading. Their unique safety-first design has no internal brackets or ledges where excess build-up can occur. The bearings are isolated from the internal atmosphere of the conveyor, removed from potentially explosive grain dust. A primary feature of the enclosed belt is the reloading tail section. All dust, debris or in some cases spilled product, is returned to the tail section by the returning belt and then diverted by a V-Plow installed within.

Peter Forster, AGI’s Australian Business Manager, says these brands are among the many that have helped AGI become the global business it is today.

“The first thing that strikes you as you travel through the halls of AGI head office in Winnipeg is the real sense of history as you view the founder’s wall,” he says.

“AGI celebrates the men and women who have contributed to the business. The founders have all had a genuine belief in the importance of their mission to serve agriculture and help feed the world.

“From humble origins in Rosenort, Canada, AGI now operates across six continents, through iconic brands such as Westeel Silos, Westfield augers and Vis Industries, a feed mill business which the two founders George, (Executive Vice-President of North America) and Jim, (Executive Vice President, Global Product Management) still work in AGI today.”

The largest acquisition in AGI’s history occurred between 2015 and 2017. In these two years AGI grew to include Westeel Silos, PTM Technology, FRAME, MFS, and AGI Brasil (previously Entringer). The move solidified AGI’s presence in many international markets including Europe and Brazil and brought over 110 years of silo manufacturing expertise.

Since its beginnings, the business has acquired more than 35 companies and now employs more than 2500 staff worldwide. Their manufacturing capabilities spans across 6 countries, with 34 facilities – delivering world class equipment to customers in over 90 countries.

Through it all, AGI’s vision is to provide the infrastructure required to feed the world. To achieve this, in 2019, it launched the 5-6-7 strategy. As part of this, the business targeted five platforms: grain, fertiliser, food, feed, and seed.

Its systems and solutions would then be taken to the six continents it operates across and delivered through seven components: storage, handling, structural, processing and controls, engineering, and project management.

Forster says AGI designs its products to the strictest safety codes and to the highest quality.

“We make products used daily in every continent and in every climate under the most extreme of conditions,” he says.

“Our dealers are all Australian farmers and engineers; they use what they sell, and they have delivered storage and handling solutions in every state in the country.

“It is exciting working with our customers to see them succeed is the reason we started this business.”

Into the future

AGI is currently investing heavily into its SureTrack platform, which enables farmers to make the most of the resources they have and assists producers to manage inventories effectively. The technology has been installed in farms and storage facilities to enable precise conditioning of crops using aeration, fumigation, drying and rehydration techniques.

Four of the company’s brands – CMC, Intellifarms, Compass and Farmobile – combined make up AGI’s technology divisions and digital tools. The insight and market intelligence delivers the solutions farmers and producers are looking for.

Forster says AGI offers the technology through its local dealer network in Australia.

“The Australian market is going through a period of reinvestment. As a result, consumer confidence and food security are becoming an important trend to focus on, especially within periods of drought,” he says.

“AGI expects the Australian market to continue to be a growth opportunity in the future, and we aim to continue expanding our portfolio of turnkey solutions.”