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New plant to open in Heidelberg

When driving down township roads and looking out over the fields ripe with new crops and bountiful harvests, it is not often that we think about the systems in place, such as underground drainage, that make those harvests possible. But drainage and piping systems were the hot topics Tuesday in Heidelberg at the grand opening of the Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS) plant, soon to employ around 50 local workers.

Temporary plant manager Rick Lamb and director of manufacturing Mike Gatt celebrate the opening of the new Advanced Drainage Systems plant in Heidelberg Tuesday.

ADS is the world’s largest producer of corrugated polyethylene pipe,  and it’s Heidelberg facility is the newest of the 48 plants that produce a full line of single and dual wall corrugated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe.

“A lot of infrastructure is nearing the end of its lifespan,” said temporary plant manager Rick Lamb at the grand opening. “Especially concrete, one of our main competitors. Now people are looking to polyethylene polymer pipes because they last longer.”

Many soils in the Waterloo Region have poor natural internal drainage and would remain waterlogged for several days after excess rain without artificial drainage. This prolonged wetness prevents timely fieldwork and causes stress to growing crops because saturated soils do not provide sufficient aeration for crop root development. Corrugated HDPE pipe quickly became the pipe of choice over clay and metal pipe because of durability, high resistance to corrosion and chemicals, and load carrying capabilities, says the company.

Drainage water management uses control structures with movable “stop logs,” which allow growers to hold water in the soil or release it depending on the needs of their crop, their fieldwork schedule and the environment. The type of pipe to be manufactured in Heidelberg serves the agriculture, storm drainage and sanitary sewer markets.

Founded in 1966, ADS serves the storm and waste water industry through a  network of 48 domestic and international manufacturing plants and 22 distribution centres. The Heidelberg ADS plant is only the second in Canada; the other is in Quebec.

“We looked at a couple of different sites in Ontario and decided that this is the closest to our core markets of agricultural and commercial construction,” said Lamb. “This is sort of the breadbasket of Ontario and it is close to Toronto, which is convenient.”

The plant is almost fully staffed at this point, but Lamb noted that they are still looking to hire a few more people to work as truck drivers and plant labourers.

“We have put a sign out front of the business that says we are hiring,” he said. “We are trying to look as locally as we can for employees. It’s a good industry to be in. I think we have just barely begun to tap the market for infrastructure and I think there is a very good future for that type of work.”

Woolwich Mayor Bill Strauss and Waterloo Region Chair Ken Seiling were on hand at the event to celebrate the opening and check out the other 17 local companies that attended the grand opening to exhibit their products and services.

“This is a great thing for the township,” said Strauss as he toured the new facility. “With the money being invested by the government in infrastructure these days, something like this is a really booming business.”

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