Fulton County will soon be home to its fourth Gerald Grain facility.
Joining the agronomy and grain receiving branches in Wauseon and the grain handling facility in Archbold will be a another grain handling branch west of Delta on County Road 11.
While the company already has access to the CSX railroad at the Hamler branch in rural Henry County, according to Clark Carroll, Gerald’s general manager, the main purpose of the new facility is to gain direct access to another railroad, the Norfolk Southern.
Similarly, as the farmer-owned cooperative continues to grow, especially on the Ohio-Michigan border, it has a need for more handling and storage facilities.
“Obviously there’s good ground, farm ground, in the Delta area, so we decided to put the facility there,” Carroll pointed out.
However, the new 148-acre facility also comes with a few challenges.
As part of Norfolk Southern’s grain shuttle program, partnering companies are expected to build a circle track on their grounds that would allow the 85-car unit trains to pull off the mainline and park at the grain facility in order to not slow down mainline traffic.
With upright steel bins and an expected 1.1 million bushel pile, the branch will also offer a storage capacity of about 2.7 million bushels. However, this much space could still be a potential internal challenge.
“It will draw bushels away from, and leave some space at, our current truck houses. Our goal is for new grain to come to this facility, so the challenge will be to keep our truck houses busy and full and also build new business at this facility,” Carroll said.
Although in the early building stages, the business is confident for the facility to be fully operational for harvest by fall of 2017, at the latest.
The $16 million dollar project is fully funded by Gerald Grain with much of the project development contracted locally. The Poggemeyer Design Group (Defiance) is serving as the project’s engineering firm while Anderzack-Pitzen Construction, Inc. of Metamora and Custom Agri Systems, Inc. of Napoleon will manage the site work and grain facility construction, respectively.
For further economic development, two office employees, a full-time grain merchandiser, two superintendents, and various seasonal workers are expected to be hired at the new facility.
Of course, the branch will also be welcomed by partnering farmers in the area.
“Being a rail location, similar to our Hamler location, there will be a premium bid for corn. We pay five cents more for corn in Hamler than we do at our other truck houses. We rather grain just go directly to Hamler instead of through all the other truck houses because it saves us money in the long run. Our Delta facility won’t be any different. It’s certainly worth the premium costs for us, so we’ll pay a little extra,” Carroll said.
In addition to having room to expand storage areas and facilities, farmland will also be rented out for use within the property. There may even be room for outside business to gain access to the rail line in the future, according to Carroll. Ultimately, the facility is being built for long term success in Fulton County.
Reach Cory Johnson at email@example.com