Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

U.S. salt producer makes Trax here

Buys Winnipeg firm for $95 million

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Winnipeg-based Wolf Trax, Inc., a plant-micronutrient company, has entered into an agreement to sell the business for $95 million to Compass Minerals of Kansas City, Mo.

Compass Minerals is a leading producer of minerals, including salt, sulfate of potash specialty fertilizer and magnesium chloride.

The $1-billion-per-year company operates in a number of markets. Its most prominent line is salt. Among other brands, it owns Sifto Salt and operates the largest salt mine in the world in Goderich, Ont.

Wolf Trax, founded by Kerry Green and Geoff Gyles, developed a patented coating for micronutrients known as DDP, which stands for dry dispersible powder. The coating put on micronutrients sticks to the macronutrients in fertilizers, so every ounce of product has the same amount of micronutrients.

Wolf Trax's technology provides a more precise and effective way of delivering important nutrients, such as boron, zinc, copper and manganese, directly to the plant.

The company won a prestigious Manning Award for innovation in 2012 and was garnering a lot of market acceptance and industry traction, including a partnership with Ontario-based Pickseed Canada Inc. last year.

Wolf Trax's sales have been growing dramatically the last few years and reached about $20 million last year.

Compass Minerals is forecasting those sales to get to $50 million by 2018.

The acquisition is scheduled to close in April. Compass Minerals will fund the purchase with cash on hand.

Tara Hart, a spokeswoman for Compass, said there are no plans to change the day-to-day operations of Wolf Trax.

Neither Green nor Gyles were available for comment, but Green has said the company, which made its first sale in 2002, took five or six years before it got to the point where it didn't have to prove the efficacy of its micronutrient formulation for every customer.

Green said his company has been referred to as a 10-year overnight success.

At the end of 2012, it had about 20 employees in Winnipeg.

Hart said, "The acquisition of Wolf Trax strengthens our plant nutrition product portfolio and pipeline. Adding Wolf Trax allows us to bring new and innovative products to the market that will expand our ability to serve our current customers with unique plant-nutrition products."

Last year, out of total revenue of $1.1 billion, Compass generated nearly $200 million in sales from its speciality fertilizer segment. Most of those sales were in North America.

Wolf Trax already has a strong established base of sales in Europe.

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2014 B6

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