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Afgritech expansion to increase operation capacity at Watertown plant

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Afgritech LLC will expand its operations by adding a 4,000-square-foot loading garage at its Watertown plant by the end of the summer, enabling it to increase its customer base across the Northeast.

Opening in the fall of 2011 in the former Blue Seal Feeds mill at 200 Willow St., Afgritech got down to business in a hurry; it installed new automated equipment from Germany and began producing bypass protein meal for dairy cattle and shipping it to companies across the Northeast.

Now it’s preparing to get bigger. Along with the expanded loading area, Afgritech will add six 100-ton silos so it can distribute its finished product to feed mills more efficiently, plant manager Harold E. Rozanski said.

The loading area, which will include an 80-foot scale to weigh loads, will provide a larger space needed by tractor-trailers to pick up the product. The current garage has a 60-foot scale and not enough space to weigh today’s large trucks.

The silos will be used in conjunction with 14 grain bins now at the plant that store 15 to 30 tons each. The city’s Planning Board approved the company’s expansion plan Tuesday.

“The expansion is a part of a future plan that will enable us to increase our production and give us a better position in Watertown,” Mr. Rozanski said. “It will aid a smooth, consistent loading of trucks. We expect to cut down our loading time from 40 minutes to 20 per truck.”

Called AminoMax Pro, the bypass protein meal is produced by mixing raw soybean meal and canola oil with automated equipment that heats and cools the blended product with computerized timing systems. The system is constantly monitored by operators using computer software, and has more than 400 sensor checkpoints to ensure the product is made with the same profile every time.

Mr. Rozanski said the expanded garage and additional silos will enable the plant — which now loads six or seven trucks daily — to expand its customer base by increasing production. Now employing nine workers and running five days a week with three shifts, the plant will begin operating on weekends, and two or three mill operators will be hired for the extra work.

Afgritech has expanded at a fast clip since being launched in here in 2011 as a joint venture of Carrs Billington Agriculture, Stanwix, England, and Afgri Operations Ltd., Centurion, South Africa. The English and South African companies spent millions to upgrade the facility here to establish a U.S. headquarters. Mr. Rozanski said the company now contracts with 11 feed companies in New York, Vermont and Pennsylvania.

After reaping early success with customers in the Northeast served by the Watertown plant, he said, Afgritech will consider adding a U.S. plant to expand in the coming years. The high protein content of its cattle feed, made possible by preserving amino acids during production, has made it popular among feed companies because it helps cattle increase milk production.

“Our product has been received positively by farms in the Northeast area,” he said. “Once everything settles with the expansion here, our two partners will certainly look at the other main dairy sheds here, like California, Wisconsin and the Texas Panhandle.”

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