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Headquarters of Ploeger Agro and Oxbo in small Dutch town

Hi-tech harvester makers join forces for international markets

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

OUD GASTEL, the Netherlands - Two of the world’s leading manufacturers of specialized harvesting equipment, U.S.-based Oxbo International Corp. and Ploeger Agro B.V. of the Netherlands, have merged to create the Ploeger Oxbo Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of harvesting equipment and related products for niche agricultural markets. The new company is headquartered in the Netherlands.

The new firm’s headquarters will be co-located with Ploeger in Oud Gastel, Netherlands, while Oxbo International headquarters will remain in Byron, N.Y. Ploeger Machines employs about 140 people in the Netherlands and England.

Oxbo International, which has plants in Byron, N.Y., Clear Lake, Wisconsin and Lynden, Washington, and employs nearly 500 people, has assured its employees that there is no change to their jobs as part of the new situation. It also has assured them that the Oxbo plants will continue to be managed locally.

Oxbo and Ploeger have already collaborated informally for nearly 20 years and continued to be independently healthy firms, according to Oxbo president Gary Stich. This new partnership positions both of our companies for a brighter future, he stated, that by working together they can accomplish things that they just could not do as individual companies. Stich gave as an example, that this way it could sell more Oxbo olive harvesters in Europe, and more easily offer Ploeger potato and fine bean harvesters in North America. The overarching reason for the merger seems to be a role in emerging markets such as Brazil, China and Eastern Europe.

Both companies will continue to conduct operations using their current names and brands. In new international markets, however, they will do business as the Ploeger Oxbo Group.

Lynden’s Korvan

Oxbo International, with roots dating back to the 1950s, manufactures a wide range of specialty agricultural equipment. Its line includes equipment that harvest processing and fresh market vegetables, berries, citrus, coffee, grapes, olives, and seed corn. Oxbo supplies equipment to customers in more than 28 countries.

Ploeger prides itself with a line of equipment that aims for optimum harvest yields, low operating costs and reliability in all weathers. Its harvesting machinery line includes equipment for peas and thick beans, spinach and other leaf vegetables, potatoes and other tubers, carrots and cabbages.

The new company is owned by five groups: Ploeger and Oxbo executives, VDL (an Eindhoven-based manufacturer specializing in buses, founded in 1953 by Pieter van der Leede), and two Dutch investment firms, Van Lanschot Participaties and Synergia. Ploeger Oxbo will be managed by a four-member board of directors: Gary Stich and Andy Talbott, vice president of sales at Oxbo, Ad Ploeger and Ploeger’s technical director Cees Van Beek.

Oxbo’s Lynden plant was founded in 1985 by Dan Korthuis and Will Vanderhage, hence the firm’s original name Korvan. It started building raspberry harvesters and diversified into coffee and blueberry harvesting equipment in 1992 and later into harvesters for grapes and raisins, and for oranges and olives. Korvan supplied customers in 15 countries by the time it sold out to Oxbo in 2004.