Grain Millers expands to corn milling with Agricor

by Eric Schroeder
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EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN. — Grain Millers, Inc. has acquired the shares of Agricor, Inc. from the Ewart family. Headquartered in Marion, Ind., Agricor is a manufacturer of yellow corn grits, cornmeal and corn flour with a growing presence in the certified organic and non-bioengineered corn product markets.

Primarily an oat milling company, Grain Millers said the acquisition will diversify and complement its existing product lines while expanding the company’s geographic footprint and distribution capabilities further east.

The two companies have worked together since 1995 as part of a shared organic corn program.

“Agricor will provide us with a platform to enhance our existing customer and supplier relationships, enable our physical capacity to grow across multiple business lines, and provide an entry point for Grain Millers into new markets and territories,” said Steve Eilertson, president of Grain Millers.

Stephen H. Wickes, who took over as president of Agricor in January 2004 following the retirement of founder John A. (Jack) Ewart, will continue as president following the change of ownership.

“I am so thankful to the Ewart family for everything they have done for Agricor and its employees,” Mr. Wickes said. “They have been wonderful owners. Going forward I am excited that a valued customer will be our new owner. The Grain Millers and Agricor cultures are very similar. After being a stand-alone mill for our entire existence, I am looking forward to sharing in the benefits and resources of a larger organization. I anticipate a seamless transition for employees, customers and suppliers followed by bright times ahead,” stated Wickes.”

Mr. Ewart, who died in March 2004, founded Agricor, Inc., in 1981 and opened the company’s first corn mill in 1983 to supply the Miles Laboratories (now part of Bayer Corp.) facility in nearby Elkhart, Ind. The Elkhart plant closed in 1996, and since that time Agricor has sold its corn meal production into traditional corn meal channels such as baking, brewing and snack manufacturing.

Founded in 1985, Grain Millers is a manufacturer of conventional and organic whole grain ingredients used in cereals, bread, bars and many other products served around the world. These grains include oats, wheat, barley and rye, which are milled into flours, flakes, brans and fibers. The company’s portfolio of products also includes dairy ingredients such as butter, cheese, cream and dairy powders such as lactose, whey and buttermilk. The company sells a variety of specialized ingredients such as organic industrial alcohol, molasses, soy beans, flax and tapioca.

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