Syngenta, Pivot Point to partner on new Spencer center

Thursday, June 14, 2018
Syngenta announced late Thursday its plans to partner with Pivot Point Spencer Inc. for a new seed distribution center in the former Eaton Corp. building in Spencer. The final seven Eaton employees are expected to vacate the Spencer facility at month’s end, making way for a new occupant.
File photo

Former Eaton building to be used for cold storage, distribution

MINNETONKA, Minn. — Syngenta announced Thursday the company is partnering with Pivot Point Spencer Inc. to manage a second seed distribution center located in the former Eaton Corp. facility in west Spencer. The cold storage facility joins an existing center in Clinton, Illinois.

“We are focused on meeting our customers’ needs and ensuring seed supply is a priority,” said Clayton Osburn, Syngenta manager of corn operations in North America. “Once again, we turned to Pivot Point because they have a track record of delivering high quality customer service. Our distribution centers position us well to manage the continued growth in our corn seed sales.”

The Spencer distribution center ramp-up is expected to add more than 24 new jobs to the local economy over the next three years.

“Our team looks forward to providing superior customer service and continuing to assist Syngenta with building productive, customer-oriented relationships,” Pivot Point owner Russ Wilkin said. “We are excited to now be a part of the Spencer community and work with local people.”

A great deal of speculation surrounded the identity of the new occupant following the announcement of the sale of the 337,000-square-foot plant and additional 62 acres of land on the complex to Western Iowa Associates, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, for $2.55 million.

At the time of the sale officials with Eaton and local economic development entities were unable to discuss the building’s new occupant.

“On May 30, we completed the sale of this facility in Spencer,” said Camie Melton Hanily, senior manager of communications for Eaton. “Because of a confidentiality agreement with the buyer, we are not able to comment further on the sale.”

Kiley Miller, president and CEO of the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation, confirmed the silence surrounding the future occupant at the time of the purchase announcement.

He said, “I’m not at liberty to talk about that stuff at this time” with regard to staffing needs and indicated he was not aware of an official occupancy date at that time.

“We’re very excited to see that building will be put back to use,” Miller added. “It’s very exciting news for the city of Spencer and the region. ... The Corridor is happy to have played a part in it.”

“Eaton expects operations to cease at the plant by June 30, 2018,” Hanily said. “Seven people currently work at the facility.”

Both Syngenta distribution centers are designed to ensure supply is positioned in key growing areas for its corn and soy seed customers.

Syngenta has 28,000 people in more than 90 countries working to transform how crops are grown.

The doors officially closed on Eaton’s operation in late 2017. The heavy duty hydraulic pump and motor manufacturer announced in June 2016 approximately 33 percent of Eaton’s staff at the time — approximately 180 would — be gone by June 2017. Those cuts followed a February 2016 announcement which involved 20 impacted jobs as the result of the move of a portion of the company's product line to China. In July 2015 the company offered severance to 49 positions — 20 percent of its staff at the time — and the remaining salaried employees must take an unpaid week off. The company made similar substantial layoffs in December of 2008, effecting a fourth of the company's workforce in Spencer. A drop in demand was behind a decision to furlough the 103 employees at that time, when the total Eaton workforce numbered 405. The number of Eaton staff at its highest points numbered almost double that number.

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