Burley Celebrates 25 Years, Look Forward

When Tessenderlo Group CEO Luc Tack arrived at Tessenderlo Kerley’s plant in Burley, Idaho, to celebrate its 25th anniversary, his first reaction was the same as that of his wife and son, who made the trip with him.

“No one would believe it’s been there for 25 years because it looks like new,” he said. “The plant was very clean, very well maintained. They have a nice, green garden there. It gives a good impression that we are running a very good operation there.”

Plant Manager Rick Hieb has been part of the Burley team since the plant opened in 1997. He said his team takes care to always have the plant always looking impeccable, inside and out.

“First impressions go pretty far,” Hieb said. “If you drive up and everything looks nice, you expect the rest of it to look nice, too. That just helps your cause.”

But Burley’s dedication to excellence goes well beyond aesthetics. The plant participates in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), which promotes health and safety at the workplace. Since 2006, OSHA has recognized the Burley plant at the Star level – the highest of three levels offered by VPP.

“I have learned that very clean and very well-maintained plants also have a very good safety culture, and this is exactly what I saw there,” Tack said. “I was very encouraged about it.”

It’s only fitting, then, that Burley’s primary export is safety for farmers’ crops. The plant is a producer of Sectagon (Metam) by NovaSource, which prevents soil-borne pests from feasting on a variety of vegetables.

During his time in Idaho, Tack spoke to farmers who use Sectagon as part of their crop protection regimen. He was delighted by what he heard.

“The farmers said they could not imagine if the Burley plant was not there, because for them, it’s such a good product,” Tack said. “They said if they didn’t have it for potatoes, they would suffer on quality and quantity. To me, that was a very encouraging statement.”

Hieb and his team were honored that Tack and his family stopped by to celebrate the plant’s anniversary, and they took time to chat about how they can make the next 25 years even better.

“It’s great that they came out for a visit to see the operation that we do have out here, and see what we have to offer, and discuss new opportunities that could come up here,” Hieb said. “It was an enjoyable visit with all of them.”

Tack said Burley is well positioned to be an integral part of Tessenderlo Kerley’s future success.

“I think the agricultural potential there is tremendous. It’s a large state, and less than 2 million people living in the state, which makes it really an ideal state for agriculture. We also see that farmers and our customers are successful there,” he said. “Burley has the land and has the potential to develop itself further, and I’m going to be asking the management team to think more about how we can further expand and grow the Burley operation in the future, and what possible future investments we can make at that plant.”

Whatever new opportunities may come Burley’s way, Hieb said he and his team will be prepared to take them on, just as they have in ensuring safety for all employees, and providing protection for farmers who need it.

“We have the manpower. We have the property. We have plenty of room here for expansion,” he said. “We’re definitely willing to do more.”