Spurring on growth
New Horizons Baking digs up a new way to lower flour costs.

Building a rail spur to serve New Horizons Baking Co., Norwalk, OH, took only five days to lay the track. Getting the flour to the bakery, however, took four more months. That’s because connecting the spur to the bakery’s flour handling system required a local company, Riley Contracting, to bore a 325-ft flour line under a street and parking lot.

“The contractor had to dig a trench, put a driller in the trench and dig underground,” recalled Mike Porter, vice-president of sales administration, Genesis Baking Co., a division of New Horizons. “It was similar to oil drilling, except going horizontal instead of digging down.”

The pipe, located about 8-ft underground, included a 12-in.-diameter jacketed steel casing protecting a 6-in.-diameter flour pipe supported by spacers. The contractor was so precise that the pipe eventually came within ½ in. of its target.

By installing the spur, New Horizons saves on transportation costs. In 2009, before adding the spur, the bakery was making 12 to 14 trips every week to a Cleveland, OH, mill to pick up its flour. Today, with the bakery’s growth, Mr. Porter estimated the company is saving 20 to 22 trips a week.

Moreover, the spur allows New Horizons to shop at other regional mills for a more competitive price, and by letting the flour age on the track for a few days, the bakery gets better water absorption and a more consistent product, noted John Widman, New Horizons’ senior vice-president of operations.