By Sam Metry
Clinton County Chatter staff reporter
ST. JOHNS — In St. Johns, there is one building that looks out of place in the city: the headquarters for Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers (Liquid Ag).
The headquarters for the $150 million company serves as an unofficial convention center for St. Johns hosting proms, blood drives, and school field trips, said Senior Administrative Officer Lynette Luna.
Headquarters is located about a mile west of downtown along East State Street.
It has three conference rooms that can all be rented out, five hotel rooms that the company uses for when clients come visit the headquarters,” said Luna. It also has an IQ Hub, which serves as an agricultural museum.
“They do a lot for St. Johns,” said St. Johns Police Chief Kyle Knight. “We’re truly blessed to have them here.”
Liquid Ag employs 45 people at their headquarters in St. Johns, Luna said. They also have a research farm about five miles north that employs 12 people.
Liquid Ag was founded in 1983 by Douglas Cook who was from St. Johns, Luna said. He started the company after his first company failed and they have never thought about leaving the area.
Luna started with the company from the beginning and said that in their first year they did about $1 million in sales and last year they did $150 million.
What started as a small mom and pop business has now spread nationwide and also does business in Canada, Mexico, and Belize, Luna said.
“When I started we were in a two room quonset hut,” said Luna. “It’s pretty amazing to see how far we have come.”
If you’re driving to the building from the East, the headquarters looks like a very modern building. If you’re driving from the west, the building looks like a barn.
This was done because the goal of the headquarters was to have the new technology of agriculture meeting the old ways of farming, Luna said.
The farming theme isn’t only on the outside of the building, Luna said. All over the headquarters is repurposed barn wood, there is a silo in the entranceway that serves as a gift shop, even the carpet was designed to look like farmland from an aerial view.
The history of farming also gets showcased in the IQ Hub.
“It was originally designed as a place for the owner (Troy Bancroft) to showcase his antique tractors, the idea just sort of grew from there,” said Luna.
The IQ Hub is a 9,600 square foot room that serves as history of farming from Squanto teaching the pilgrims to the current innovations in agriculture that Liquid Ag is making today, Luna said. The room also serves as a field trip spot for all ages.
“We bring thousands of school kids in here,” said Luna. “We had no idea it was going to be this popular. Had we known that, it would have been laid out differently.”
The building also has five hotel rooms that can be rented out, Luna said. The idea behind that was that the company was spending so much money flying employees in and then putting them up in a hotel in Lansing that it made more sense for them to stay actually in the facility.
Headquarters is only two and a half years old but Liquid Ag is already thinking about expanding the facility at the five-year mark, Luna said. They feel that they could use larger conference room areas.
The building was truly designed to be for the community, not just Liquid Ag, Luna said. Liquid Ag really only uses 1/3 of the building for it’s actual business.
“We’re always thinking of things that we can do for the community,” said Luna.