WGI Westman Group is adding to its product lineup and manufacturing capacity, acquiring grain and seed handling equipment manufacturer Convey-All Industries.
Based in Winkler, Man., Convey-All makes on-farm and commercial conveyor systems, as well as seed tenders. Steel building and fabrication business Nu-Steel Industries is a division of Convey-All.
“It’s a logical fit for us,” said WGI president and CEO Paul Cunningham, speaking with RealAg this week.
Winnipeg-based WGI also owns Meridian Manufacturing, which has production facilities in Winkler. WGI acquired Regina-based auger company Sakundiak in 2009 and bought Morden-based conveyor-maker Elias Reliabelt this spring.
“This rounds out our offering now, with a complete conveyor line and an auger line,” he noted.
Manufacturing of Meridian’s large seed tenders will be moved from the US to Convey-All’s facility in Winkler, with freight and currency costs factoring into the decision, said Cunningham.
“We have to work through a rebranding process, but the Convey-All name will not disappear,” he said.
The acquisition of Nu-Steel Industries is also a good fit with WGI’s existing pre-engineered steel structure business — Behlen Industries, noted Cunningham:
“Nu-Steel has stuff that we don’t have in Behlen, and Behlen has capacities that Nu-Steel doesn’t have…and the same goes with the Meridian and Convey-All side. What we find is one plus one often doesn’t equal two. It equals three because you accelerate both of your capabilities at the same time.”
With the additional production capacity in Winkler, WGI is considering consolidating some of its operations to southern Manitoba. For example, some of the work being done at a laser facility in Ontario might be moved to Winkler.
Following the slowdown in ag and oil demand in the last two years, Meridian has laid off employees and implemented reduced working hours. Cunningham said they’re starting to see an uptick in orders.
“We’re calling people back right now. I don’t think we’ll be at three shifts, but we’re going to try to get back to two shifts in Winkler,” he said.
The companies have already started working together, although the deal is only expected to close in early September.
“We’re already funnelling work back and forth to each other and assisting each other. It’s very exciting. I think it’s going to be a big win for the entire employee group,” said Cunningham.
Between Meridian, Behlen, Westman Steel, Canada Culvert and its other subsidiaries, WGI has 29 manufacturing, sales and distribution locations in Canada and the US.
Convey-All was started by current majority owner and president Bob Toews in 1983 as a custom welding shop. In addition to conveyors, the company has also built wood stoves, combine header platforms, drill fills tanks, pontoons for houseboats and sand transfer equipment for the oil and gas sector. Convey-All opened a new 30,000 sq ft manufacturing plant in 2012, and another 20,000 sq ft assembly facility in Winkler in 2014.