POST FALLS - The Jacklin Seed facility, one of Post Falls' oldest and most visible businesses with its operation along Interstate 90 near the state line, will shut down over the next three years, the J.R. Simplot Company announced on Thursday.
Boise-based Simplot, which bought Jacklin Seed in 1997, has acquired Scootney Springs Seed, a production and seed-cleaning facility near Othello, Wash., to be closer to the company's main production areas in central Washington.
"The growing area for the bluegrass industry in the Pacific Northwest has shifted, and this new location near Othello will keep Jacklin Seed in the midst of the market," said Chris Claypool, Jacklin Seed general manager.
Twenty-five production employees at the Post Falls facility will not be transitioned to the Othello site, which already has such a staff, said David Cuoio, Simplot spokesman.
Garrett Lofto, Simplot AgriBusiness Group president, said the company will provide severance packages, counseling, out-placement services and other assistance to those affected.
"We will be doing what we can to ease the transition ... ,"Lofto said. "... we hope that making this announcement so far in advance of the closure will help them adequately plan for their futures."
Another 40 employees, including administration, research and development and sales, will be transitioned to a future office in the Spokane area.
Grass seed is cleaned, processed, bagged and marketed at the Post Falls facility. The Othello site will take on the Jacklin Seed name during the transition.
Cuoio said the decline of grass seed production and field burning on the Rathdrum Prairie in recent years and the new Interstate 90 interchange next to Jacklin Seed were not factors in the company's move.
However, Cuoio said the Post Falls site will likely be sold because of its prime location near future businesses. Simplot has been leasing the buildings on the property.
Karleen Meyer, who grows grass seed on the prairie, said she and her nephew, Nate Schumacher, won't be affected by the move because their seed is marketed through Seeds, Inc., which has a facility in the Worley area. The Meyer family and Schumacher have been the only farmers to grow Kentucky bluegrass on the prairie in recent years.
Jacklin Seed was founded in 1936 by Arden Jacklin and his father, brothers and other relatives at Dishman in the Spokane valley. The company's first seed crops were peas and beans, not grass.
Jacklin Seed was the first company to produce Kentucky bluegrass in central Washington more than 30 years ago. It built its headquarters in Post Falls along Interstate 90 in 1977.
Jacklin Seed's products are distributed to more than 70 countries to customers such as golf course superintendents, lawn care companies, sod producers, athletic field managers and commercial nurseries.
Jacklin is a household family name in Kootenai County with deep agricultural and development roots. Multiple buildings, including at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds, University of Idaho Research Park in Post Falls and the arts and cultural center in Post Falls, bear the Jacklin name. The Jacklin Land Development Company, which operates the Riverbend Commerce Park in Post Falls near Jacklin Seed, gave 28 acres to the University of Idaho Foundation in 1997 for the research park.
Simplot's decision is the latest development that transitions Kootenai County from its farm background.
"To lose a company that has been such an integral part of Post Falls' local economy for 77 years is a sad day, especially for the good jobs that will be lost as well," city council member Kerri Thoreson wrote in an email. "This underscores just how important it is moving forward to aggressively pursue and attract manufacturing jobs to our city."