| Company constructs new plant to meet the needs of its customers |
For Florida-based KeyPlex, business necessity met with opportune timing and formed an almost-perfect union last year. The beneficiaries today include the many customers, in the United States and 12 other markets, that use the micronutrient and biopesticide products KeyPlex develops and manufacturers for agriculture.
KeyPlex owner Gerald O’Connor says his company had already outgrown its original manufacturing and packaging plant in Wauchula, within Hardee County, when he and his management team decided in mid-2011 to move forward with the construction of an all-new, state-of-the-art plant on another site near Wauchula.
The new plant, a 40,000-square-foot facility constructed on 14.5 acres in the Hardee Commerce Park, opened for production in December 2011. Tough government standards for facilities that manufacture agricultural products were key factors in plant design and construction. “It’s fully contained,” O’Connor explains. “Nothing gets out into the environment. And even if it does, it’s eco-friendly; you just hose it down with water.”
Another factor in product quality and customer satisfaction is a KeyPlex policy to purchase raw materials only from American suppliers. “That’s the only way we can guarantee our quality,” O’Connor says.
Of the equipment at the new plant, O’Connor adds, “Almost everything we purchased was American made or dealt with an American company.” That included mixing units from Texas, tanks out of the U.S. Midwest and food-grade bottling equipment from Inline Filling Systems, a Florida company based in Venice. O’Connor observes it would have been less expensive for KeyPlex to purchase equipment from foreign suppliers, but “we wanted to give back” to the United States.
KeyPlex manufactures and markets approximately 22 products sold and shipped to customers in Central and South America and in the Caribbean. In all, 52 different crops in 13 markets are served by KeyPlex micronutrients and biopesticides.
Most of KeyPlex’s customers are traditional growers, but the company also provides products for the increasing number of organic growers. One of them is Uncle Matt’s Organic, a Clermont-based citrus company that makes, markets, and sells a line of not-from-concentrate organic juices. “We have an organic-registered product, KeyPlex 350 OR, for organic use,” O’Connor states. When used as a spray on foliage, 350 OR helps to prevent certain plant diseases, such as post-bloom fruit drop, citrus greasy spot, and tomato bacterial leaf spot, according to the KeyPlex website (www.keyplex.com).
In its home state of Florida, O’Connor makes the point that KeyPlex products help to offset the potentially ravaging effects of citrus diseases such as HLB (Huanglongbling or “greening”), canker, and greasy spot. In fact, the company’s slogan is “Improving Plant Health Around the World.” O’Connor elaborates, “We don’t cure anything (with KeyPlex products), but the belief is that the healthier the tree, the easier it is to fend off disease.”
CFAN staff report