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Germany-based Krone moving HQ to Olive Branch

Rusty Fowler

Dietz Lankhorst

By BECKY GILLETTE

Krone, a family-owned company based in Spelle, Germany, that has been doing business in the United States since 1973, has made plans to move its North American division, Krone NA, from Memphis, to Olive Branch in DeSoto County.

The Olive Branch location will cost $1.5 million and employ 45 people working in parts and distribution for the company that sells hay and forage equipment such as disc mowers, mower conditioners, tedders, rakes, round balers, large square balers and forage harvesters.

Rusty Fowler, president of CEO and Krone NA, said the company is operating out of two locations in Memphis to accommodate the growth of its business.

“That became fairly inefficient,” Fowler said. “We were looking for a new location that would allow us all the amenities of a new distribution center. We saw some of the product being built in north Mississippi. When we made contact with the development people in Olive Branch, DeSoto County and the state of Mississippi, they were very friendly and business accommodating. They were very interested in new business coming into north Mississippi. They just bent over backwards for us, and made a nice offer for moving our business there. We are looking forward to moving starting in October of this year.”

Fowler said another factor in the relocation decision was that the accessibility of trucks, freight lines and common carriers has been greatly improved with Interstate 269, a beltway highway around Memphis, southwestern Tennessee and northwestern Mississippi that connects to Interstate 40, Interstate 55 and Interstate 22.

“You have three major transportation arteries that come very close to our new facility in Olive Branch,” Fowler said. “That was just another positive thing we looked at before making the choice to move to Olive Branch. It is still considered part of the Memphis area. It is not like we are leaving the Memphis area. About 45 percent of our employees live in Mississippi. The location doesn’t represent a big change in driving distance for most of our employees. That wasn’t really something we had to take into consideration when we made the choice to relocate. It is not uncommon for people to cross the state line every day for work.”

There will be no manufacturing done at the facility. It will be used for distribution, marketing, training, parts and service support for all of North America.

The Krone company is about 113 years old, and currently is being led by the fourth generation of the family. The company offers a highly specialized line of equipment for the livestock and dairy business used in the harvesting of hay and other forage crops.

Incentives for the company relocating to Mississippi included training for employees, property tax relief, and business relocation reimbursements. Fowler said it was a comprehensive package put together by the city of Olive Branch, the Desoto County Economic Development Group and the Mississippi Economic Development Council.

“They are great people,” Fowler said. “I really enjoyed working with them.”

Fowler will retire at the end of July, and turn the operations over to new president and CEO Dietz Lankhorst. Previous to coming to work for Krone, Lankhorst worked at MTD Products, Inc., Valley City, Ohio, where he served as vice president of European Operations since 2013.  He began his business career as a financial analyst with Ford AG, in Cologne Germany in 2002. Lankhorst earned a mechanical engineering degree from Cologne University of Applied Science in 1998, and a finance degree at Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, Monchengladbach Campus, in 2001.

Jim Flanagan, president/CEO, DeSoto County Economic Development Council, Hernando, welcomes Krone to Olive Branch and DeSoto County.

“This German-based leader in the manufacturing and distribution of agricultural hay and forage equipment and their recent location will again distinguish our state and DeSoto County as a key player in the global marketplace,” Flanagan said.

Gov. Phil Bryant said Krone is known worldwide for its high-quality hay and forage equipment, and the company’s decision to locate its North American headquarters and distribution operations and move dozens of jobs to DeSoto County demonstrates to industry leaders around the world that Mississippi is a great place to do business.

Krone NA will lease approximately 45 percent, or 265,000 square feet of space, in a facility currently being constructed by Exeter Property Group in the Crossroads Distribution Center.

Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr., said Olive Branch’s prime location coupled with a robust transportation network positions Krone NA to effectively serve its customers, as well as enable the company to contribute to North Mississippi’s economy for many years to come.

“We salute the teamwork of the DeSoto County Economic Development Council, DeSoto County Board of Supervisors and the City of Olive Branch, which, along with MDA, played a key role in making this move happen,” McCullough said.

For more information, see the website https://www.krone-northamerica.com/

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About Becky Gillette