MANKATO, MN - Production of soy fiber particleboard is underway at Agristrand Mankato LLC's 160,000-square-foot plant.
Agristrand touts itself as the only North American manufacturer of soyboard and door core products, an alternative to composite wood products made with urea formaldehyde resins. "The company is providing a new value added crop for area farmer/producers, and supplying the construction trade with a true 'green' alternative"
Agristrand purchased the dormant facility in November 2011, becoming its fourth occupant the original owner being Phenix Biocomposites. The company said it raised $10.25 million for relaunching the mill which it said has "undergone major transformations>' Mill improvements under Agrsistrand's ownership include the addition of a proprietary fiber processing plant and many upgrades and improvements to automate the production line.
The company said the facility has the capacity to convert soy straw, a waste product resulting from soy bean harvests, to product iup to 40-million-square-foot production capacity. It will utilize soy straw harvested by farmers on approximately 45,000 acres within a 75-mile radius of the Mankato mill.
"It has been a long road fixing up this very distressed mill," said Dan Biller, vice president of marketing for Agristrand. "We have done it and are very proud of the improvements. We're still fine tuning, but great strides have been made. We have an extremely talented leadership team from the composite panel industry and we are very proud of their hard work. It will take us a while to ramp up production, but the interest we are finding is excellent. We feel like our timing is very good for our green product."
Agristrand said its soyboard and soycore products qualify for points under several "green" certification schemes, including the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program, Green Globes and the National Association of Home Builders' National Green Building Program.
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