Imperial Seed opens in CentrePort

Imperial Seed formally becomes the latest addition to the CentrePort inland port development today, with the official opening of its new facility on Park Royale Way.

The company — a forage and grass seed specialist that sells to customers around the world — has built an $8-million complex on the roadway that runs alongside the north side of CentrePort Canada Way, west of Brookside Boulevard.

The operation includes a 20,000-square-foot seed-processing plant, office space, seed-testing lab and a 30,000-square-foot storage warehouse with 17 full-time employees and more on the way. 

Imperial has 20 acres of land on the site, allowing it to do its own screening and research on test plots for the first time in its 60-year history. 

Kurt Shmon, owner of the company, said that among other things, the investment the company has made in the new facilities includes diversification into the retail business for forage turf and cover crop seeds. 

"The experimental plots will allow us to do screening as well as evaluating the agronomic benefits of new varieties or species that we could bring into Western Canada for our marketing team," Shmon said. 

He said his sales and marketing team already has set up a network of 120 dealers across Western Canada who will be carrying Imperial Seeds for retail. 

In the past, Imperial has sold to dealers and wholesalers from around the world, some of whom are going to be in Winnipeg today to see the new operations that will allow Imperial Seed to double its seed multiplication services, packaging and employee base, with space for future expansion available. 

Imperial is the first new development in this part of CentrePort — and CentrePort CEO Diane Gray figures there will be more to follow. 

"Kurt has been an enthusiastic client to work with," said Gray. 

"The interesting thing about this development is that they took enough land that they are able to do test plots for new varieties and also to be able to have an R&D test facility on site as well. So they can do it all from a single site in addition to being able to containerize and ship these products around the world to clients." 

CentrePort’s more flexible zoning regulations allow Imperial to do it all from the same location. 

Shmon, who had been offered incentives to move to Saskatchewan, is happy about his new location after outgrowing its Arlington Street location across from the National Microbiology Lab. 

But he’s all alone on the street right now and is hoping Gray and land developers will be able to attract some neighbours. 

Gray said CentrePort anticipates being able announce some new developments in the area this summer. 

One of them should be the National Research Council’s (NRC) Factory of the Future development, a $60-million development on a 10-acre site on a piece of land that will front onto CentrePort Canada Way. 

NRC officials recently disclosed it was doing final environmental and geotechnical assessment on the land. 

"We are very hopeful that once it completes its due diligence, the National Research Council’s Factory of the Future will indeed be constructed at CentrePort," said Gray. 

The NRC site is situated in a new, 100-acre industrial park that Crystal Properties has developed. It is the first CentrePort development that will offer fully-serviced land, including water and water services. 

An NRC official said the preliminary work should be completed on the development by the end of September.

Winnipeg Free Press article

Read more: Behlen's blog post