Engineering the Future of Hemp Production.

In the heart of the Upper Rio Grande is Formation Ag, an engineering and equipment fabrication company developing solutions for harvesting and processing industrial hemp. Initially a division of Power Zone Equipment, Inc., in late 2018 Formation Ag moved into its new location just north of Monte Vista, Colorado and repurposed a 28,000 square-foot building.

After one year from that date – and only in their second year of business – they have increased production six-fold. The company employs 25 people, nearly all of whom were hired in 2019 from the local skilled talent pool; they are now looking outside the region for more engineers.

Formation Ag is the United States pioneer of specialized farm machinery for the Industrial Hemp Industry and a leader in industrial hemp farming. Less than two full years into its inception, the company is meeting challenges head on, from working with federal and state regulatory agencies that are currently behind schedule, to educating customers on the characteristics/qualities/advantages of the many varieties of hemp.

The company is always working on new products for growing, harvesting, decorticating, and processing industrial hemp. They engineered, designed and manufactured a “gentle” Harvester for the fibrous “tough” hemp plant to eliminate wrapping, jamming, and damage caused by traditional harvesting equipment.

Randy Wright, Operations Manager, says “Industrial hemp for CBD requires a gentle approach to prevent loss or degradation of oils. We can engineer for 80% of the hemp varieties, but the remaining 20% of crops are problematic, like the big, bushy “Christmas tree” varieties. In the future we plan to educate and help farmers to start with a plant variety that works best as a production agricultural crop.”

Formation Ag has benefited from bringing in Manufacturers Edge, a leading consulting service to coach personnel in a program of collaboration-focused industry. Wright credits Formation Ag’s success to hiring good employees with excellent work ethics, initiating them in the shop as assembly people before being moved to other areas, then coaching them to be part of the improvement process of the factory and the product.

Story by Upper Rio Grande Economic Development 11/27/2019

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