Wyo-Ben adds shifts, increases production

Nathan Oster

Already one of the largest employers in the Big Horn Basin, Wyo-Ben is poised to experience even more growth in the months to come as it ramps up production to meet worldwide demand, according to its chief executive officer, David Brown.
When Wyo-Ben announced the acquisition of M-I SWACO’s bentonite assets in the Greybull area early last November, Brown hinted that growth may be on the horizon, but not even he saw it coming this soon.
“Things have gone better than I would have predicted,” said Brown. “The integration has been very smooth. We welcomed all those MC (Magnet Cove) plant employees — our family culture is exactly what that operation needed.”
The company is now positioned to expand.
“Two shifts at MC just are not enough,” said Brown, pointing out that the company is “close to having enough people” to start a third shift at MC.  When it does, the company will proceed with strategies to add a fourth shift.
Production workers, heavy equipment operators and truck drivers are among the roles the company was looking to fill as it hosted a job fair at the Magnet Cove plant on Tuesday.
“At the moment, we have 20 open positions in Wyoming — and most of those are at the MC plant,” said Brown.  
Wyo-Ben has three other plants — Sage Creek, Stucco and Lucerne.  The company is already maxed out running 24/7 shifts at the Lucerne plant and is in the process of adding a shift at the Sage Creek plant in the Lovell area.
Since November, Wyo-Ben has added 25 employees to its Wyoming operations, most of them at Magnet Cove.  Looking at the Big Horn Basin as a whole, Wyo-Ben is now up to 210 employees, according to the CEO.
Earlier his month, Wyo-Ben expanded its global footprint with the launch of Wyo-Ben Pet Canada in Toronto, Ontario.
Brown said multiple factors are fueling the company’s growth. “It’s more than just the cat litter market,” he said. “The Toronto facility is focused entirely on packaging cat litter which we ship out of plants in Wyoming.  Under private labels, most of that gets sent over to Europe.
“And the iron ore business is strong.  Customers are coming to us to buy more.”
In addition to the job fair, Wyo-Ben has announced plans for open houses at its Magnet Cove and Stucco plants near Greybull on Friday, June 21.  The public is welcome.  Times at 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Both plants will be shut down for employee-led tours and free lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“With Wyo-Ben having such a significant presence, not only in Greybull but the whole Big Horn Basin, and being such an economic development driver, it occurred to us that maybe the community doesn’t really know what we do,” Brown said. “They know bentonite, they live on bentonite and they recreate on bentonite, but they may not know what it takes to mine it, what it takes to process it and where in the world it is sold.”
The open houses are intended to shine a spotlight on the company and how it is evolving to meet the growing worldwide demand for bentonite mined in the Big Horn Basin.