October 22nd, 2020

Drip irrigation business has grown into a large family operation

By Submitted Article on November 26, 2019.

Ric Swihart

For The Herald

A trickle of water, they say, can become a torrent or river.

But with the right equipment, that trickle can become a vital part of the giant irrigation sector.

That thought was evident when Bert Oostenbrink, working with his brother in the Fort Macleod area, was impressed by a new American drip irrigation product produced by Nitafirm in the United States. >

Oostenbrink started from the ground up, often loading drip irrigation equipment in his truck and searching for tree shelterbelts in the region to showcase the system.

It is a basic irrigation system. Install a water filter after the water pump so clean water seeps into a drip pipe to slowly soak the soil where it is located. It is called drip irrigation.

Oostenbrink returned to his home at Chilliwack, B.C., to set up a drip irrigation system on his Fraser Valley operation. Armed with the potential for drip irrigation, Oostenbrink launched operations in Chilliwack and Lethbridge under the banner Southern Drip Irrigation. Initially, most of the work was done on lawns, raspberry operations and in greenhouses.

As business grew Oostenbrink, as sole owner, started to get some sons involved in the operation. Today, Oostenbrink remains with the operation, and ownership includes long-service partner Marc Jongerden and five Oostenbrink sons.

The company launched formal operations in north Lethbridge 10 years ago, renting a small office and warehouse complex. Growth of business with a growing service sector was the spark to relocate to 511 41 St. N. The new structure is 14,000 square feet, including about 10,000 square feet of warehousing for inventory, and the rest offices, customer service centre and rows of small parts inventory. Outside warehousing is a significant part of the operation.

Jongerden, in charge of outside technical sales in the new administrative structure, said the company is prepared to expand services to meet the irrigation needs of customers.

“We want to continue to expand so we can fill the needs of customers,” he said. “We all support intelligent water solutions and expect to provide one-stop shopping for the industry.

“We remain in a growth mode. That is why we added a presence in Oliver, B.C., in 2018, and earlier this year, launched an office in Red Deer.” Total staff surpasses 80.

Jongerden said Southern Irrigation is prepared to respond to any water-related work from all kinds of water piping projects to greenhouses and nurseries.

“We can supply anything for water application to water drainage,” he said. “Our strength for industry is supplying the needed equipment and finishing with professional installation.”

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