Experience, milling companies unite under Panhandle Milling

by Susan Reidy
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Panhandle Milling merger
Panhandle Milling, New Mexico Milling, Specialty Blends and Specialty Grains will be one operating unit under the name Panhandle Milling.

DAWN, TEXAS — With the aim to grow and broaden product offerings, longtime milling executives Bryan Ledgerwood, John Mason and Peter Bisaccia, along with John Cure, announced on Oct. 3 the merger of their respective companies into a single operating group —  Panhandle Milling.

The group will align Panhandle Milling, a flour mill in Dawn that Mason purchased from Richardson Milling in January; New Mexico Milling, a flour mill in Farmington, N.M., that is restarting operations this year; Specialty Grains in Dawn, that blends and packs a range of grains; and Specialty Blends, a mixing/blend company, which operates in Dawn and Farmington. Dawn is located about 35 miles southwest of Amarillo in the southern portion of the Texas panhandle. Farmington is located along the Colorado border about 180 miles north of Albuquerque.

Dawn is located about 35 miles southwest of Amarillo in the southern portion of the Texas panhandle

The organization brings together milling executives with decades of experience at some of the industry’s top companies. 

“We aligned these companies to broaden and expand our product offerings to the marketplace as a single company,” said Mr. Mason, a longtime miller with 25 years in the industry.

“The consolidation of businesses makes geographic sense in order to leverage all of the companies’ strengths and remain innovative in the industry,” said Mr. Ledgerwood, who was part of the management group at New Mexico Milling that is restarting the facility. His prior 20 years of milling experience includes roles as vice-president of milling operations at Richardson, director of operations at Viterra, vice-president of manufacturing at 21st Century Grain Processing and business unit manager at ConAgra Foods.

“We feel strongly that merging the companies and becoming partners will better position Panhandle Milling for continued growth,” Mr. Mason and Mr. Ledgerwood said.

Mr. Mason anticipates the company will continue to grow through additional mergers and acquisitions.

Mr. Bisaccia, who has nearly 30 years of experience in the grain, blend mixing and flour milling industries, will lead the newly formed organization, serving as president and partner. Prior to joining Panhandle Milling, he was senior director of sales for Ardent Mills, where he was responsible for overseeing regional account managers nationwide.

Prior to that, Mr. Bisaccia was director of sales for ConAgra Mills in Omaha, Neb., where he had responsibility for developing sales strategies for regional personnel throughout the United States, in addition to marketing, brand planning and business-development strategies to drive revenue growth. Mr. Bisaccia also was the sales leader for Bay State Milling, coordinating the development of the initial market and sales strategy for the mix and blending business.

“Panhandle Milling has an extremely strong leadership team, as well as an experienced and talented sales group,” Mr. Bisaccia said. “We are well positioned to continually drive innovation and growth in the marketplace. Our team has decades of experience in every sector of the grain, milling and blending businesses.”

Randal Robinson, who has more than 20 years of experience with Panhandle Milling, will lead flour sales, and Sheena Dau will lead specialty sales. Ms. Dau was previously key account manager within the food service channel for Ardent Mills. Tim Devey will lead the marketing efforts for the combined companies as the director of marketing.

“We’re making a significant investment in these four companies, and in each business we focused our investments on assets that are nimble and flexible, allowing for unique and customizable products to meet market demands,” said Scott Freebern, vice-president of engineering/milling and partner.

Panhandle Milling was purchased from Richardson in January. The 5,000-cwt facility produces organic, whole grain, high gluten flour and bread flour, which is mostly sold into the Texas market. It does have some products that go nationwide.

The mill was founded in 1985 by a farmer cooperative and purchased by 21st Century Grain Processing Cooperative in 2001, then by Viterra, Inc. several years ago. When Viterra was purchased by Glencore International P.L.C. in 2012, Glencore agreed to sell Viterra’s milling business to Richardson.

New Mexico Milling previously was operated by Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (NAPI). Mr. Ledgerwood led the new management team that is restarting the facility. It has a daily wheat flour milling capacity of 2,300 cwts in addition to grain storage of 2.2 million bus. The mill is equipped with packaging equipment with capacities of producing 2-, 5-, 10-, 25- and 50-lb packaged products and also will ship bulk flour. It offers specialized blending capabilities to produce custom blends such as bread, pancake and tortilla mixes.

Specialty Blends is a highly automated mixing/blend plant that may produce products from pancake mix to Chicago-style pizza crust mix, with blenders that incorporate high concentrations of oils and shortenings into any mix recipe.

Specialty Grains leverages cleaning and sorting technologies to blend and pack traditional grains, organic grains, non-bioengineered grains and organic ancient grains. Packaging flexibility includes everything from 7-oz standup pouches to 100-lb bags, totes and bulk capability.   
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