As published in Toledo Business Journal - February 1, 2015
Rendering of ABM's new Van Wert facility
Advanced Biological Marketing (ABM™) is working to upgrade its current facility and to also plan the construction of a new production operation in Van Wert. The current facility is located at 375 Bonnewitz in Van Wert, adjacent to its corporate headquarters on the city’s north side. It is approximately 12,000 square feet.
As a domestic company that produces sustainable, safe, and natural crop products that increase crop yields, ABM™ is expanding their production capability with the planned new construction of a 78,000 square foot plant that will take place over the next two years.
“We have not yet broken ground on what will be a two-year project. We are finishing up the financing for the new plant and are planning to break ground in the spring or summer this year. We are continuing to investigate private and public financing for the project.
“The new plant will be located in Vision Park in Van Wert and cost approximately $15 million,” stated ABM™ CEO Dan Custis.
The company is also investing $1.7 million in its current facility. When the full project is completed, employment for the business is expected to double with the addition of approximately 30 new jobs.
This first phase of the project expansion will allow ABM™ to significantly increase its production capacity. The expansion will also help the company shorten product lead times and more quickly react to changes in market conditions.
The new construction project will result in a total of 90,000 square feet of space for the two facilities.
“This facility expansion is a significant step for the company,” said Custis. “As we continue to grow, it’s vitally important that we are able to meet the ever increasing demand for our current products and to prepare for the development of future products.”
In the past three years, ABM™ has had a significant increase in sales growth for its all-natural agricultural biological products, and market demand continues to increase, which has moved up the facility expansion by two years.
“In the past year market demand has increased at a rapid pace. There have also been important changes with competitors. This has combined to speed up our expansion plans by about 24 months,” explained Custis.
“The City of Van Wert’s economic development agency has provided critical support that has helped us move forward with this new investment. Cynthia Leis (director) has been invaluable to this effort. I can only give the highest kudos to her and her organization,” Custis strongly emphasized.
The company’s mission is “to be the leading developer/manufacturer/distributor of agricultural biologicals that increase yields and improve farm productivity while simultaneously interacting with the environment in an elevated and positive manner.”
“With the new facility, we are adding liquid fermentation capacity. We have never had this before. This will enable a lot of flexibility for the product offering that we provide to customers,” stated Custis.
“We are also automating our filling equipment for finished product and putting additional warehouse space in place,” stated Custis.
Alexander & Bebout, Inc. in Van Wert is the general contractor for the project. The firm is also providing design services for the new plant.
Information from ABM™ about its products and technology focus help to explain the growth that the business is experiencing.
One of the company’s products is focused on the corn crop. SabrEx™ for Corn has been shown to create more robust root systems, induce resistance to plant stresses like dry weather or disease, and increase water and nutrient efficiency, according to the company. Yield data over the last 4 years have averaged an 8.53 bu/acre yield increase. This provides a 6:1 return on investment, according to the company.
According to ABM™, SabrEx™ for Corn is a unique formulation of two selected, specific, patent pending, proprietary biological fungi strains called Trichoderma. Trichoderma colonizes with the plants root system and develops a “symbiotic” relationship with the plant. The Trichoderma feed from the starches and sugars produced by the plant while exuding beneficial enzymes and proteins for the host plant’s use. As a result, the plant produces a larger root system, improves resistance to stresses such as diseases, and improves its nitrogen and water use efficiency, thus resulting in higher yields.
Founded by farmers, agronomists, and agricultural consultants, ABM™ is focused on pushing the limits of technologies available to the farmer. ABM has developed its products for the farmer, both domestically and internationally, and concentrates on increasing the output and profitability of the land.
ABM™’s chief science officer is Dr. Gary Harman. According to ABM™, Harman has dedicated his livelihood to the development of microbial technologies to enhance plant growth and productivity, including biological control of plant diseases, enhanced resistance to stress, improved nitrogen use efficiency,
In June of last year, ABM™ announced the issuance of US Patent No. 8,716,001 for a Trichoderma strain that induces resistance to plant diseases and increases plant growth. The patent was issued to Cornell University and ABM™ has exclusive worldwide rights.
The patent covers the technology that induces gene expression triggers for healthier and more productive plants. The Trichoderma works by first colonizing the crop root system. Its use on the seed allows the plant to grow in a more beneficial manner than it would without the Trichoderma and changes the plant’s physiology without altering its DNA, according to ABM™.
“ABM™ is dedicated to providing farmers with sustainable solutions to improve their agriculture production,” said Custis. “Our work with Cornell University and the issuance of this patent allows us to continue producing products that offer farmers the most advanced solutions in enhancing plant growth and productivity.”
ABM™ currently utilizes the patented Trichoderma strain in many of their commercial agriculture products. Any product that carries their iGET™ technology moniker contains this Trichoderma.
ABM has additional facilities in Geneva, New York, Albert Lea, Minnesota, and Lichtenburg, South Africa.