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DuPont to move ag division HQ to Des Moines


Chemicals giant DuPont Co. said last week it planned to move the headquarters of its Agriculture and Nutrition division, which includes Pioneer Hi-Bred International, to Des Moines as it tries to bring the unit’s operations closer to its customers.

In addition to Pioneer, the group includes DuPont Qualicon, Liqui-Box, Food Industry Solutions and Solae L.L.C., which is a joint venture with Bunge Ltd. based in St. Louis. Together, the division had sales of about $5 billion last year, of which more than $2 billion of which were generated by Pioneer. DuPont had 2002 sales of $24 billion.

Along with the change in headquarters, which is designed to improve logistics and isn’t expected to lead to any cost savings, DuPont said that J. Erik Fyrwald, 43, would succeed Howard Minigh as vice president in charge of the Agriculture and Nutrition group, effective July 1. Minigh is resigning from DuPont to pursue other interests, the company said.

The moves come slightly more than a year after DuPont formally created the Agriculture and Nutrition group as part of an effort to streamline its corporate structure. The relocation to Des Moines will bring the headquarters closer to the majority of the group’s biggest customers and help the company take better advantage of the extensive research laboratories Pioneer has built at its Johnston complex.

“To continually grow our business, we must keep finding solutions and offering choices to our customers that best leverage all of Dupont,” said Pioneer President Rick McConnell. “Moving the leadership for the DuPont Agriculture & Nutrition platform to the Midwest allows closer interaction with our customer base and end users.”

DuPont spokesman Irvin Lipp said the move became possible following the departure of Minigh, who had worked in Wilmington, Del., where DuPont is based. “The opportunity (to move the headquarters) presented itself when there was a leadership change,” he said.

Other large agriculture-related companies that are located in the Midwest include Decatur, Ill.-based Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., Minneapolis, Minn.-based Cargill Inc. and St. Louis-based Monsanto Co.

Fyrwald had been vice president and general manager of the Nutrition and Health division since September 2000.      He earned a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware in 1981 and began working for DuPont that year as a production engineer. Since then, he has held a variety of sales and management jobs at the company.

In 1986, he worked as a technical sales representative for Butacite, which is used in glass to make it safer. He moved to Detroit in 1990 to take a position as a strategic planning manager and later moved to Tokyo to direct DuPont’s Engineering Polymers – Japan unit. While there, he also served as regional business manager for the Asian operations of Butacite.

In 1997, he was named one of Crain’s Detroit Business’s “40 Under 40,” a list of top Detroit business leaders who are 40 years old or younger. He became vice president of corporate plans in September 1998.

Fyrwald and his wife, Mary Lou, have three children. Lipp said Fyrwald planned to move to Des Moines sometime this summer.  

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