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Imagine the world is your seed

Robb Hicken

Robb Hicken

The expansion project in Parma took nearly three years of planning and construction, and when it was finished it nearly doubled the size of the Nunhems campus. The facility serves as U.S. headquarters for Nunhems, a subsidiary of Bayer CropScience and one of the world’s top commercial vegetable seed producers.

When I sat down to talk with Nunhems Chief Executive Officer Douwe Zijp, who traveled from Brussels to be a part of the opening ceremonies Oct. 27, it almost seemed as though the two of us had met before. We talked for about 20 minutes, and at the end of the conversation it was clear Nunhems is not finished with its growth.

Zijp hasn’t had any trouble finding workers for the expansion. With their latest growth, Nunhems USA has expanded their staff to about 150 people on its 60-acre site in Parma.

“We found Idaho a perfect location for our people,” Zijp said. “Other areas are difficult to get workers and expand when needed.”

County and state government welcomed the expansion with open arms, Zijp said. At the ceremony to open the facilities, Ron Amarel, Nunhems managing director of operations, also said there was a partnership with the county, state and the Parma Fire Department to include features that serve the community.

The 100,000-square-foot expansion includes an energy-efficient seed processing facility, a remodel of several existing structures, and construction of an on-site Parma Fire District substation and office for the Payette County Sheriff’s Department.

“We simply needed more space,” Zijp said, “to make sure we can bring [seeds] to the whole U.S. and other countries.”

The Treasure Valley has played an important part in onion seed production since the Nunhems first entered the valley nearly 25 years ago. Over the years, Nunhems has introduced several other types of seed, and seeds have been brought in from outside the area because of the facility in Parma.

“Here in Idaho, we could fairly easily expand our facility when we needed,” he said.

Several years ago, the company moved its headquarters from California to Idaho because of its commitment to the state.

“This expansion is a significant investment in the future of both Nunhems and Idaho,” he said. “It is an example of our commitment to improving our technology and operations in order to provide our customers with the best possible seed.”

He added that most of the work at the site was done using local contractors.
Five years ago, Nunhems expanded with the thought that there wouldn’t be a need for expansion in many years, he said.

“For the coming five years, I don’t expect something, but it is very well possible that we could expand,” Zijp said.

It is projects like these that should make Idahoans proud as a state and community. When an international company like Nunhems chooses to relocate because it’s easy to deal with the local and state government officials, and because it sees Idaho has a good willing work force, it sets the state up for success and recovery.
Robb Hicken is managing editor of the Idaho Business Review. Write comments to robb.hicken@idahobusinessreview.com

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