Richardson buys Winnipeg-area input retailer

Bestland Air’s facility near Starbuck, Man. (Photo courtesy Richardson International)

An independent crop input retailer is being merged into one of its neighbours near Winnipeg as grain firm Richardson International continues on a retail expansion track.

Privately-held Richardson announced Dec. 11 it has closed a deal to buy the retail assets of Bestland Air Ltd. at Starbuck, Man., about 30 km southwest of Winnipeg.

Bestland Air was set up at Starbuck in 2015 by Matt and Johnny Bestland, both of whom had been involved in the inputs business since the early 1990s.

The Bestlands built up their business by buying Agrium’s Crop Production Services (CPS) outlet at Starbuck in 2015, as well as local aerial application firm Morse Air.

Starbuck is not uncharted territory for Richardson, whose Richardson Pioneer arm operates a 17,850-tonne capacity elevator and ag business centre on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) line in the community.

Tom Hamilton, Richardson’s vice-president for agribusiness operations, said the Bestland facility outside town “will provide us with additional capacity and enhance our ability to continue providing local producers with leading seed, fertilizer and crop inputs technologies.”

Aerial application services will be provided by a third party, a Richardson spokesperson said. Bestland Air has operated three turbine-powered Air Tractor aircraft for use in aerial pesticide application as well forest protection.

Richardson has been buying and building capacity in the input retail market in recent years, acquiring 10 Prairie retail sites from CHS Canada in October and two independent outlets at Vermilion and Forestburg, Alta. last summer.

The grain firm also built new at Elrose and Pasqua, Sask. this year and is setting up a new facility at Wakaw, Sask. to open in 2018. — Network

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