Seed World

BrettYoung’s New Turf Processing Facility Caters to a Global Market

BrettYoung Chief Operating officer Cory Baseraba (left) and CEO Eric Dyck show off the new NorthCore facility.

The $20-million, 60,000 square-foot NorthCore will process turf seed faster and in greater quantities than Canada’s biggest independent seed company has managed to before.

When your business is growing, you need to grow with it. 

Over the past 15 years, Manitoba-based BrettYoung has experienced steady and continuous growth in sales and volume. They’ve consistently operated at near maximum capacity for much of this time. 

That capacity crunch has led to the opening of BrettYoung’s new NorthCore facility located at its headquarters just outside of Winnipeg, a 60,000 square-foot, $20-million investment that allows BrettYoung to process turf seed faster and in bigger quantities than ever before.

“As our business has expanded, our customers have expressed a growing demand for our services. They appreciate the wide range of products we offer across all our categories, as well as the quality of service we provide,” says Cory Baseraba, chief operating officer for BrettYoung.

“This new facility has been a resounding success for us and our customers. It was time.”

Wide Open Spaces

One of the key aspects of BrettYoung’s business is its ability to produce  seed products using the vast Western Canadian land base and cater to a diverse clientele. BrettYoung specializes in both forage and turf species, with the latter side of its business catering to numerous clients including golf courses, consumer turf brands, and distributors worldwide, with a strong focus on regions like the United States, China and Europe. Customers want more high-quality, proprietary grass seed products, and Canada is an important  supplier.

However, that success has presented challenges, particularly in terms of storage space and throughput capacity — and also the ability to deal in multiple species. 

In areas such as the southern and eastern parts of the U.S., where warm-season grasses like Bermudagrass tend to go dormant in colder months, BrettYoung’s cool-season grasses, particularly perennial ryegrass, offer a solution. 

“Golf courses often undergo seasonal rehabilitation when warm season grasses go dormant. Perennial ryegrass is overseeded  in the fall, followed by intensive watering to establish , ensuring lush green fairways for visiting golfers, especially snowbirds who like to golf in winter,” Baseraba says.

But consistency is key in catering to this market. Golf course owners seek specific genetic varieties year after year to maintain uniform playing conditions, he adds. 

“We strive to meet this demand by supplying our growers with identity-preserved seed varieties, ensuring that the quality and performance remain consistent for our customers’ courses.”

Enter NorthCore, which features one cleaning line — with space for three more as supply grows — and features a pneumatic conveying system, which is a network of pipelines that move seed with air. This all transfers seed around the facility. It also features blending and packaging lines that process seed three times more quickly than BrettYoung’s older equipment, all run digitally through centralized monitoring and control systems.

“With this new dedicated facility, we can process turf products faster than ever. We have to ensure timely distribution of millions of pounds of cool season grasses every summer. Failure to meet this deadline results in potential loss of sales opportunities for other forages and seed varieties,” Baseraba adds.

NorthCore is a 60,000 square-foot facility at BrettYoung near Winnipeg.

Strategic Decisions

The inception of the NorthCore project dates back five years, with construction commencing on the 60,000-square-foot facility in 2020. It had a soft opening in March 2023.

As BrettYoung’s new NorthCore facility leaps into action processing turf seed, according to BrettYoung CEO Erik Dyck, the company has made a strategic decision to refocus its legacy cleaning facilities primarily on processing its forage products. This deliberate move separates BrettYoung’s operations into distinct areas, allowing them to streamline processes, reduce changeovers and better meet the specific needs of customers, he says.

It’s all made possible by a dedicated staff of around 250 employees and a committed  board  with a bold vision for the future of Canada’s largest independent seed company, Dyck says. 

“BrettYoung’s shareholders have been fully supportive of our growth initiatives. They’ve consistently reinvested in the company; they’re driven by a desire to capitalize on the opportunity to better serve our seed grower and end use customers,” Dyck says. 

The Seed Grower Connection

A significant aspect of the BrettYoung story revolves around its utilization of domestic seed production, particularly in collaboration with Canadian-based seed growers across Western Canada. 

“The majority of our seed supply originates from this partnership, leveraging the expansive land base in Western Canada for cultivation,” Baseraba says.

BrettYoung takes this raw seed and undertakes various processing activities, including cleaning and processing, seed testing , coating, and packaging, tailored to meet specific needs. This involves multi-species blending, small packaging suitable for consumer turf, wholesale packaging in distributor bags and other services customers value. 

“Through these comprehensive services, we not only cater to domestic demand but also market our products internationally, reaching customers around the globe,” he says.

In today’s market landscape, the return on investment offered by turfgrass and forage seed production is highly compelling for the company’s seed grower partners. These crops offer numerous agronomic benefits, Dyck adds. 

“They not only grow for multiple years but also contribute to carbon sequestration and soil health improvement. There’s considerable value in cultivating perennial species like forages and turfgrass.”