Land O’Lakes has launched an $80 million expansion, adding a third wing to its Arden Hills headquarters.
Although the ceremonial groundbreaking is Thursday, construction crews have already erected cranes, begun excavating for footings and foundations, and obliterated half an employee parking lot.
The campus now houses nearly 1,000 workers, with one building for corporate and dairy-foods division staff and another for its dairy research and development labs. The new 155,000-square-foot building will consolidate 850 workers in the company’s Purina animal feeds division and Winfield United crop inputs business who are now housed in rental buildings in Shoreview.
“Really it’s about trying to get everyone onto one campus and help drive that collaboration and innovation and get our businesses all together,” said Marcia Droege, Land O’Lakes’ director of real estate and facilities.
She said the building is scheduled to be finished in the second quarter of 2018. It will be environmentally friendly and certified as gold LEED, or leadership in energy and environmental design. The structure also will have a large multipurpose conference center for the company’s many and diverse cooperatives to easily join top executives for meetings and events.
The $80 million price tag includes phased-in renovation of the main corporate headquarters, built in 1980. Droege led a short walking tour recently to show how one floor of the older building has been changed to a more open plan with few boundaries between workstations, “neighborhoods” for various departments, glass-enclosed offices for private phone conversations and confidential meetings, and small booths and enclaves for impromptu meetings.
Unlike traditional floor plans, the directors and vice presidents have no offices, but roam through the work space to check in with various supervisors and teams.
“We’ve pulled everyone out into the open work environment and created more shared space,” Droege said. The arrangement is designed to help everyone make faster and wiser decisions, she said.
President and CEO Chris Policinski said Land O’Lakes has focused on its three main divisions and net sales have grown from $5 billion in 2005 to $13 billion in 2015.
“If you put it all together, we’ve grown a lot,” Policinski said. “We’ve got more employees, it’s a high teaming environment and we wanted to get them on one campus.” About 50 percent of the company’s workforce has been hired in the past five years, he said, in part because the company’s strategy requires different skills.
Continued growth to meet expected world food demand in a more sustainable way necessitates a different model of how employees work together, he said. For instance, the company’s new sustainability division may need to work closely with its Winfield United crop inputs division, which sells seeds and weed killers, on how to more effectively protect water quality.
Policinski said a more collaborative working style to achieve broader success is attractive to those just entering the workforce. Land O’Lakes and other large firms have become concerned about recruiting new talent in today’s market because fewer college students seem interested in pursuing food-related careers.
“The building itself and the notion of making it easy to work in this environment is important,” he said.