Project Update: Going Global
July 01, 1999
by Stormy Wylie
MFS/York/Stormor finds niche market in Ukraine's grain storage industry
Although privatization and modernization of the antiquated grain storage industry in Ukraine is progressing slowly and investors are hard to find, one U.S. manufacturer of grain storage and handling equipment says it has found a niche in the promising Ukraine market.
MFS/York/Stormor, Grand Island, Nebraska, U.S., a division of Global Industries, Inc., recently completed major grain storage projects for two private Ukraine companies, Agra-Soyuz and Ecoprod. The Agra-Soyuz facility located in Dnepropetrovsk has a capacity of 38,000 tonnes, or 1.4 million bus (wheat equivalent); the Ecoprod grain facility near Donetsk, which was just commissioned in May, and has a capacity of 22,000 tonnes, or 800,000 bus.
Randall Van Langen, general sales manager for MFS/York/Stormor, said the Ukraine projects establish the company as a major contender in not only U.S. but also international markets. Although the cost of the Ukraine storage projects was not disclosed, Mr. Van Langen said each facility was a multi-million-dollar project.
The equipment in the Agra-Soyuz project included a dozen 1,800-tonne capacity steel storage bins, six 1,650-tonne capacity bins and six 775-tonne bins, as well as three continuous flow “Ezee-Dry” systems, two 350-tonne wet receiving hopper bins and two 50-tonne load out hopper bins. MFS/York/Stormor also provided four bucket elevators and a half-dozen drag conveyors, all with capacities of up to 85 tonnes per hour, plus bin unloading screw conveyors, receiving drag conveyors and other related equipment.
The Ecoprod project included six 1,765-tonne and two 4,990-tonne storage bins, two 135-tonne wet receiving hopper bins, two load out hopper bins, two bucket elevators with drag conveyors for receiving at 30 tonnes per hour and four bucket elevators with drag conveyors for storage at 250 tonnes per hour, plus catwalks, support towers, dryers, cleaners, weighbridge, temperature monitors, bin unloaders and other equipment.
All the equipment was manufactured in Grand Island and shipped to Ukraine in containers.
The large, modern steel storage facilities built by MFS/York/Stormor are in sharp contrast to the older concrete and flat storage facilities found throughout Ukraine, according to Mr. Van Langen.
The grain storage industry in Ukraine is currently in a state of disrepair (see World Grain, November 1998, Page 6). The Ukraine government in January 1998 announced a plan for privatizing a major share of the state-owned grain storage, processing and distribution enterprises, but progress has been slow. The Agra-Soyuz and Ecoprod facilities are two of only three privately owned grain storage facilities in Ukraine. “One of the most difficult aspects is finding investors who have the money for pay for the equipment,” Mr. Van Langen said.
Still, the Ukraine offers “tremendous opportunity,” he added.
For much of this century, Ukraine was known as the “breadbasket of the Soviet Union,” and has the potential to be a major grains producer once free-market reforms are fully in place, Mr. Van Langen said. It will take entrepreneurs like the owners of Agra-Soyuz to bring the country's grain storage infrastructure up to world standards, he said.
In trips to Ukraine last fall and this spring, Mr. Van Langen made several sales calls while the president of MFS/York/Stormor, Don Anderson, visited with government officials. The company also finalized a partnership agreement with the owners of Agra-Soyuz to distribute MFS/York/Stormor's products in Ukraine.
The distribution partnership will bolster the company's global position, Mr. Van Langen said. MFS/York/Stormor now has offices in Kiev, Ukraine; Bankok, Thailand; Seoul, South Korea; the United Kingdom; and Houston, Texas, U.S.
To show its commitment to a continued presence in Ukraine, the company also joined the Ukrainian Grain Association.
“When we make a commitment to an area, we stay in there for the long haul,” Mr. Van Langen said.