“Over time it has become clear the Florida farm centers are not strategically aligned with our locations in the Eastern Corn Belt,” said Pat Bowe, chief executive officer (CEO). “We believe Wedgworth’s will continue to effectively serve the needs of the growers in this region and make good use of the capable workforce and assets in Florida.”
The Andersons obtained the Florida farm centers through the acquisitions of Douglass Fertilizer in 2008 and Immokalee Farmers Supply, Inc. in 2011. The Andersons’ products will continue to be available to customers in the region through a distribution agreement with Wedgworth’s.
“This combination brings together the state’s leading dry and liquid plant nutrient suppliers and melds the most knowledgeable team of professionals in the fertilizer industry,” said Dennis Wedgworth, president of Wedgworth’s Inc. “We are excited about the expanded capabilities of not only supplying dry and liquid plant nutrition, but also crop protection products that this acquisition allows us to offer our customers.”
Wedgworth’s Inc., founded in 1932, is a family owned and operated custom blend fertilizer company and is headquartered in Belle Glade, Florida. The company’s plant facility is located in Moore Haven, Florida.
The sale of the farm centers is the second proposed transaction that the company has announced in 2017. In mid-January, The Andersons announced its plan to sell and exit the retail business altogether. The company indicated the retail business has struggled in recent years, with the company’s Retail Group incurring pre-tax losses of more than $20 million during the past eight years. The company also has closed three stores during that period.
The closing will eliminate approximately 650 positions in the Toledo, Ohio, U.S., area and 400 positions in Columbus, Ohio, U.S., of which approximately 75% are part-time positions.
During a conference call with analysts about The Andersons 2016 financial results Bowe discussed the company’s goals it focused on in the past year. In 2016, the company addressed three key areas: portfolio management, productivity and targeted investments. It closed two cob facilities in the fourth quarter and announced plans to exit its retail businesses, which will allow the company to focus its capital on higher performing assets, he said.
Bowe said the company has been streamlined to improve operational efficiency with a reduction in senior corporate leadership positions and an overall workforce reduction of 10%.