AUBURN, ILL. (May 24, 3:15 p.m. ET) — Scanning a productive Midwest corn or soy field can provide a quick answer as to why Springfield Plastics Inc. is pumping up its production of polyethylene drainage pipes.
“It's very obvious if you're in the Midwest. It doesn't take a farmer to see where corn is three feet high or where it is a few inches, or there is no corn at all. You instantly know which has too much water,” said Steve Baker, president of Auburn, Ill.-based Springfield Plastics, in a telephone interview.
He explained that PE pipes used in drainage systems have enabled farmers to better irrigate their crops, allowing the plants to grow quicker and healthier. That's why Springfield is working 24 hours to turn out the product.
That's also why the company plans to add another extrusion line that will be ready by the end of July and boost its capacity by 20 percent.
Baker declined to further elaborate on the expansion plans, but admitted that demand has been very strong.
“Over the last four to five years, we've seen significant growth in our business,” he said.
Baker credited that the company uses virgin PE resin, and the quality of the product, as reasons for its success.
He also noted that the rising costs of farming, such as for seeds, fertilizer and equipment, means that crops are more expensive, so farmers are using drainage systems as a risk management tool.
“In the Midwest, 2012 has been the perfect growing season, but the previous four were just the opposite,” said Baker, noting that high rainfall totals forced some farmers to replant crops.
The company has been making drainage pipe since 1973 and currently has 60 employees. Baker expects to add 10-12 more people as it boosts its production.