Scoular still plans western Canadian expansion

Posted Feb. 28th, 2014, courtesy of
The Western Producer

by Brian Cross

American grain company Scoular is pushing ahead with plans to expand its presence north of the border.

Scoular, based in Omaha, Nebraska, says it will increase its staff at Canadian offices in Calgary and Montreal and will also look at building or acquiring grain collection facilities in Western Canada.

Todd McQueen, a senior vice-president involved in executing the company’s Canadian strategy, said the company will hire more people, develop new partnerships with existing Canadian grain companies and invest in elevators and other facilities.

“We anticipate growing both (Canadian) offices, I would say fairly substantially in the coming years,” McQueen said.

“We’re very excited about the potential in the Canadian market, both for the ag industry in general and certainly for the Scoular company. We feel like there’s a great deal of room to grow.”

Until recently, Scoular was involved in a project to build a large grain collection facility near Northgate, Sask., just minutes north of the Canada-U.S. border.

But last month, Scoular’s former partner in the project, Ceres Global Ag Corp. of Toronto, announced it had terminated its agreement with Scoular and would instead develop the Northgate facility on its own.

McQueen declined to comment on Scoular’s participation in the Northgate project but said the company is continuing with other efforts to expand its presence in Western Canada.

The company has well-established connections with end users in North America and abroad including millers, processors, distillers and livestock feeders.

Scoular is also expanding its reach in other markets, including Mexico, South America and Asia.

“We’ve got a vast network of destination customers that are always looking for new sources of origination,” McQueen said.

“We absolutely will invest capital in facilities (in Canada).… We’ve got several deals in the works currently. Unfortunately, none of them are at the point where I can talk about them publicly, but we will be investing in brick and mortar, if you will.”

Scoular’s strategy for developing its Canadian business will focus on linking producers and end users, either through creative transportation solutions, strategically placed collection facilities or business partnerships.

“When we find a facility or a business that’s for sale and it fulfils one of those market needs or customer needs, we’re very interested in either building a new (facility), acquiring an existing one, upgrading an existing one, and if that involves a partnership with another company, we’re actually looking at one of those right now.”

McQueen said Scoular’s Canadian business is focused primarily on buying spring wheat, durum and rye.

The company also ships feed and feed ingredients north into the Canadian market.

Recent changes to the western Canadian grain marketing environment have opened the door to potential new business partnerships between companies such as Scoular, which have markets but no collection facilities in Canada, and established grain buyers in Western Canada, which have facilities and relationships with growers.

“I think that’s right in our wheelhouse, so to speak,” he said.

“We’re ready to work with those kinds of people to provide capital as needed as long as they’re in a place … where (producers) will support it via their volume. We’re very interested in reinvesting in those kind of assets and helping those people to succeed and to thrive into the future.”

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