Vaderstad adding to staff to meet growing demand
June 8, 2021, 2:26 pm
Vaderstad is undergoing a major ramping up of production, adding 60 production employees and a second production shift at its Langbank production facility, which manufactures tillage, drilling and planting machinery for the ag industry. Additional support staff will be added at the Langbank facility as well.
Jason Wasylyk, Director of Operations for Vaderstad, which employs 200 people in Canada, says production is ramping up because of booming sales.
“Today we’re at 200 people across Canada. There’s a Swedish division and a Canadian division and now a U.S. division that was announced this week,” says Wasylyk.
“This production ramp up will add an additional 60 production staff (in Canada) and then some support staff around it, as well as a second shift because we are at capacity on the single shift.
“2020 wasn’t a great year because of harvest 2019. But our volume from 2020 to 2021 increased almost 90 per cent, and we’re expecting another 40 to 45 per cent increase this year.”
Wasylyk says most of Vaderstad’s units are being sold in Canada, and seem well suited for Western Canadian conditions.
“We’ve got some distribution in Australia as well out of this plant but it doesn’t amount to a whole lot today,” he says. “So it’s mostly Canada. Our distribution footprint grew over the course of the last little while, so that certainly helped, but I think the real reason is that it is a quality machine and performs well, in the Western Canadian conditions in particular.”
He says of the 60 new production staff, Vaderstad will be looking for people with a variety of skillsets.
“Welders, painters, assemblers, warehouse folks, shippers, receivers—it’s really the full gamut because you’re adding a second shift, so you’re duplicating what you have,” he says.
He says Vaderstad is focusing on sourcing the new employees locally.
“Our intent is always to focus local for a number of reasons,” he says. “We’re a little bit remote. You and I might not think so, but when you get somebody coming from a city or from somewhere else, it’s a little bit remote. So our intention is always to find people locally. With some of the skilled trades, it’s a little bit tough because you’re competing with oil and gas, and you’re competing with the mines primarily for some of those more skilled areas.”
Wasylyk says most of Vaderstad’s staff live fairly close to the facility at Langbank, in communities like Carlyle, Moosomin, Whitewood, Kipling, and Broadview.
“We always say draw a 50 km circle around the plant and that’s really our catchment area,” he says.
Wasylyk says one of the biggest challenges of having to bring peolpe in from out of area is finding enough housing for them in the local area.
“That’s probably one of the major challenges quite honestly,” he says. “You’re trying to recruit people of course, but then you’ve got to put them somewhere and it’s not always that easy. It might be the biggest challenge. There are many challenges, but that one, it impedes your ability to grow in some sense.”
Once the additional staff are in place, Vaderstad will have two full shifts running at its plant.
“We’ll have a day shift that runs from 6:30 am to 3 pm and an evening shift from 3:30 pm to midnight,” says Wasylyk. “And D shift will be slightly higher in head count just strictly because of some of the support functions, but from a production perspective it really is two identical shifts.”
He says the added shift will not quite double Vaderstad’s production.
“We’ll still have a little bit of room left but some other things need to happen to create that kind of top up capacity,” he says.
After the second shift is added, Wasylyk says Vaderstad does have some room to further expand its operations at the Langbank facility, although it wouldn’t be easy without an expansion.
“We could add another 30 per cent of capacity, but 30 per cent becomes more difficult. Beyond that, we’d probably be looking at an expansion if we needed to grow further,” he says. “But that’s not in the cards today.”
He says Vaderstad is approaching the current production ramp-up in three phases.
“There’s a ramp up scheduled for August, another in September and another one in November. The reason for this is because we’ve got a very, very strong order book currently, and all of it needs to be produced by next April. So these are all spring 2022 machines.”
Despite being in a rural area, Wasylyk says Vaderstad has been successful in adding and maintaining staff in the past and they expect the same in this situation.
“It’s a bit of a struggle, but I think we’ve been very successful. Our turnover rate is very, very small, relatively speaking. It maybe says that we’re doing something right,” he says.
Wasylyk says in the future, Vaderstad will be looking to diversify its products, and the Langbank facility will continue to be part of that process.
“The plant will always be here, the plant will always produce,” he says. “The challenge right now is that we don’t really have the diversity in product mix that we’d like. One of Vaderstad’s core values is innovation, so there are a number of projects ongoing and a bunch of effort focused on diversification of the product line.”
Aside from its staff at the Langbank plant, Wasylyk says Vaderstad has staff around Canada, but most of those staff are engaged in sales and service.
“We have an Eastern Canadian operation but it’s not manufacturing. It’s just sale service. We also have people in north and south Alberta, north and south Saskatchewan, a little bit into Manitoba and then the east. We service B.C. through Quebec with our products. And then there’s a regional office in Regina as well that houses some engineering staff, again some sales and services staff, and some other support functions—some of our IT resources are there for instance.”