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Leaf River Ag serving customers, building new facility

Photo by Rachelle Klemme Construction work continues on the frame of the new Leaf River Ag warehouse in the Wadena industrial park.

Recovering from the June 17 tornado and building at a new site at the Wadena industrial park, Leaf River Ag is in transition.

"Our intentions right from the time that tornado happened was that we were going to rebuild it," Scott Dau, general manager of Leaf River Ag, said.

Leaf River Ag's new lot by Homecrest Avenue in southeast Wadena has been cleared for building, and the main warehouse is under construction.

"Right now it's basically in its infancy stage," Dau said.

He added that the weather this fall has been good for construction.

Dau said that in addition to the main warehouse, the main office, a side warehouse for feed and a shop would be built. Across the road, a 10,000-ton fertilizer building and a chemical shed would be built as well.

Dau said that the main warehouse would be 40 feet longer than its predecessor destroyed by the tornado, and the office would be 600-700 square feet larger.

He said that ideally, the site would be built by Dec. 1, and the goal was to have an open house before Christmas.

Until then, Leaf River Ag is making do with what they have: a trailer by the affected Wadena property and their other locations.

"We've had a trailer set up at the Wadena site by the high school for bulk fuel and propane business," Dau said. "We've been doing our spraying and custom application business out of the Wadena location. Any of the repair work and service work that we need to do, we've been doing that there."

He said that the office and agronomy business were moved over to Leaf River Ag's New York Mills site.

Dau said that Leaf River Ag remains dedicated to its customers and employees.

"We made a conscious effort to keep everybody employed through this whole thing," Dau said.

Dau has been the general manager of Leaf River Ag since 2002 when the company started as a result of a merger between Northern Co-op of Wadena and Bluff Creek in New York Mills and Bluffton. It has locations in Bluffton, New York Mills and Wadena.

As a co-op, Leaf River Ag is owned by its customers. Dau said it has a seven-member board elected by the general membership.

He said that Leaf River Ag has about 5,000 patrons, some of whom are retired, and about 2,000-2,500 are active in business.