Nebraska-based manufacturer Orthman opens facility in South Africa

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Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 12:00 am

A central Nebraska agricultural equipment manufacturer has established warehouse and assembly facilities in South Africa.

Orthman Manufacturing Inc. opened 32,000 square feet of warehouse and manufacturing space on Dec. 2 in Kempton Park, South Africa, a suburb of Johannesburg.

“Right now, it's very much a startup,” said Rod Haarberg, director and senior vice president of marketing for Orthman.

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The South African operation could have as many as 15 employees within a year, Haarberg said.

With headquarters in Lexington, Neb., the company seeks to grow its presence in sub-Saharan Africa by tapping into its relationship with John Deere. In addition to its own products, Orthman manufactures parts for the agricultural giant, which has a considerable presence in South Africa and operates about 15 dealerships within 75 miles of Johannesburg.

According to data from the World Bank, 65 percent of Africa's labor force works in agriculture, an industry that accounts for 32 percent of the continent's gross domestic product.

Orthman has other international locations in Australia, the Netherlands, France, Russia, Hungary and Ukraine.

The Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce and Industry named the company medium-size manufacturer of the year in 2012. The company is building an $8 million, 115,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Lexington.

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