Dakota Prairie Organic opens new flour mill

by Eric Schroeder
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HARVEY, N.D. — Ribbon cutting ceremonies were held Oct. 26 at a new Dakota Prairie Organic Flour Co. flour mill in Harvey. The mill, dedicated to production of organic and gluten-free flour and bakery mixes, has a daily milling capacity of 5,000 cwts.

The new mill replaced the original specialty unit with 700 cwts of daily capacity the company has operated since it was established in October 2003 in Harvey in north central North Dakota.

The company was created by brothers Grayson L. Hoberg and Eric Hoberg. Grayson is chief executive officer and Eric is vice-president of sales and marketing.

"We’re strong believers in the organic market and the need for gluten-free products," Grayson Hoberg said.

A native of North Dakota, Grayson Hoberg left a career in the high-tech field to start-up a venture in flour milling.

From 1997 until 2000, Mr. Hoberg was chief financial officer and senior vice-president of finance and administration at EarthLink, Inc., one of the nation’s largest Internet service providers. Later he was c.e.o. at United Online, another I.S.P.

Equipment for the new mill was supplied by Agrex S.p.A. of Italy. While the wheat flour mill produces only organic flour and millfeed, the second unit mills both organic and conventional gluten-free products.

Gluten-free flours are milled from a vast array of grains and other products, including amaranth, quinoa, millet, flax, sorghum, lentils, rice, peas, beans, oats, tapioca, teff and coconut.

The mill ships product bulk and in 50-lb bags. Its product line includes 70 different kinds of flour and bakery mixes.

The facility has 1 million bus of grain storage capacity, and is served by the Canadian Pacific Railway. The company has 25 employees.

In addition to domestic markets, shipments to Hong Kong, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Peru account for a significant part of the Dakota Prairie business.

"We aren’t a six-day milling company," Mr. Hoberg said. "We’re seven days a week, 365 days a year. We don’t shut down for Christmas or New Year’s. That’s why we needed to expand."

Financing for the original mill came from federal Rural Development loans. A new $7.4 million Rural Development loan helped finance the expansion.

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