By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
RIPLEY – Oil-Dri Corp. of America is banking on its newest product to help old markets – and potentially open new ones.
The company has launched Verge, an “engineered granular product” that it will make at an expanded portion of its Ripley plant.
Oil-Dri, which has been in Tippah County for 60 years with plants in Ripley and Blue Mountain, has made cat litter, oil absorption products, agricultural carriers, animal health products and sports field and turf products.
Verge is what company Vice President and General Manager Tom Rutherford calls a “carrier.”
“Let’s say you want to apply a product to protect a crop – herbicide, insecticide or fungicide – you can do it one of two ways,” he explained. “You can spray it as a liquid, or you can apply them in granular form.”
But not all granules are created equally. Some can dissolve immediately, some slowly, or some may not dissolve at all.
With Verge, Oil-Dri customers can choose whatever form they want. It’s unique in the industry, said company President and CEO Dan Jaffee.
“We can make it do what we want it to do,” he said.
Even better, the dust created from applying typical granular products has been virtually eliminated, helping to create a cleaner, better environment, Jaffee said.
Verge obviously will be targeted to the agricultural industry, but Jaffee and Rutherford said other applications are being explored.
“There will be plenty of visitors from Japan and elsewhere in the next few months looking into what’s going on here in Ripley, Miss.,” Jaffee said.
The expansion is an initial $7 million investment by Oil-Dri, with another $12 million investment planned.
Oil-Dri has about 140 employees at its two Tippah County plants, and while the Verge launch has added just two workers, officials hope to add at least a dozen more. But that will depend on sales of the product.
Any expansion and addition of jobs is important, said Tippah County Development Foundation President and CEO Duane Bullard.
“It’s always good to see something good happen during times of economic stress,” he said. “And this is definitely something good.”
About the company
Oil-Dri is a leading developer, manufacturer and marketer of products for consumer, industrial and automotive, agricultural, sports fields and fluids purification markets. Founded in 1941 as a distributor of clay floor absorbents, the company now develops, manufactures and markets products for consumer, industrial, automotive, agricultural and fluids purification markets.
Source: Oil-Dri Corp. of America