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He Can Do Anything

"Ken Church"

They say you can take the boy from the farm but you can't take the farm from the boy. As a person who was raised on a Prairie farm I know that statement is true. As further proof, I offer this story of Ken Church.

Ken was raised on a small farm near Ryerson, Saskatchewan. Like all farm kids he milked cows, cleaned pig pens and wished chores were easier. As a youngster Ken was very inventive. At age 13 he built a pea-shelling machine that could fill a 3-gallon pail in 5 minutes. "Neighbours from miles around would bring washtubs full of peas to our house for shelling. My mother knew then that someday I'd invent something important."

Ken graduated from the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Arts and Science, a technical school in Saskatoon. In 1981 he did something about helping farmer's kids who have to clean pig pens. He formed a company called' 'Feroex" in Gimli, Manitoba. Using a sophisticated method of introducing fiberglass into plastic, he created a grid hog flooring of plastic, raised and supported by fiberglass reinforced joints. The flooring was easier to clean, easier to install, and durable. Dealers came from around the world and bought. Ten years later, they're still coming and buying.

Ken's company has branched out into a number of other products. In 1984 a Winnipeg window manufacturer asked Ken to develop a window frame using his specialized method. Bigger plastic companies had told the manufacturer it couldn't be done. Ken tackled the project, mastered it, and his strong flexible window frame won first prize at the 1985 International Plastics Show in Atlanta, Georgia.

Now Ken has developed another highly specialized technical product. It's fiberglass rods, 40 km long, spooled on reels. The rods go down the centre of fiber optic cables to give the cable strength and still provide flexibility.

With the world's emphasis on recycling waste material, Ken is leading the way in recycling waste plastic. He buys waste plastic foam from Canadian and U.S. auto manufacturers, brings it to Gimli and recycles it by manufacturing his hog grids with it. Ken boasts, and rightly so, that, "We are one of the very few manufacturers in North America who recycles plastic into a manufactured product. Most recyclers produce plastic pellets which they sell to manufacturers. We go pick up the waste plastic, bring it here and manufacture."

Ken Church has achieved a lot in ten short years. He was nearly wiped out in 1983 when fire destroyed his plant. Like most fledgling businesses he was only partially insured. Somehow he managed to rebuild and survive. By 1987 he was ready to really expand. This time into a big new 30 thousand square foot modem plant. What's his key to success?

"I always wanted to have my own business. I'm very strong on technology and that is the strength of our company. Our products are technically advanced over existing products."

Ken's company now employs 42 people and sales this year should top four million dollars! He's still only 40 years old. I have a strong feeling that over the next few years we'll be hearing a lot more from this Saskatchewan farm boy.

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