Diversification plan continues

A pair of welders work on the roof of this warehouse under construction at Valley Fertilizer in Mt. Jackson. The 80,000 square foot building is being constructed by Harman Construction, Inc. of Harrisonburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

As Bowman Andros continues expanding in Mount Jackson, a new warehouse is set to open up by February 2015.

The $2.7 million, 80,000-square-foot warehouse is being built by Valley Fertilizer and Chemical Fertilizer Company at 250 Valley Road. Bowman Andros, a producer of apple products, will store either packaging materials or finished products in the facility.

Orville Smoot, general manager for Valley Fertilizer, said the construction is part of Valley Fertilizer’s initiative to diversify its business.

“The board decided on a 20-year plan back in 2001 to diversify, because while our main focus is agriculture products, that’s only busy during the spring and fall,” Smoot said. “By leasing storage space, we can pay the bills 12 months out of the year.”

According to Smoot, Valley Fertilizer owns 60 acres of land with a potential to build 360,000 square feet of storage space. Currently, Valley Fertilizer leases 80,000 square feet of space to Bowman Andros.

Smoot said, “We are willing to lease space to anyone, it’s just right now, Andros is our biggest customer in this regard.”

According to Kinter McClelland, director of human resources at Bowman Andros, his company decided to lease from Valley Fertilizer because it made financial sense.

“We stepped back, took a look at the numbers and decided that renting a warehouse would be more cost effective for us in the short term, especially with our focus on expanding product lines in the Shenandoah Valley,” McClelland said.

Currently, Bowman Andros employs eight to 10 people, mostly forklift operators, at the warehouse they are renting from Valley Fertilizer. McClelland said they would evaluate if they need more employees for the new warehouse.

“We don’t know how many more we would need, perhaps another eight at most, but there is a possibility that if what we decide to store in, either packaging or finished product, we might need less people. We’ll figure that out once it’s complete,” McClelland said.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com