FOSTORIA, OHIO — The Mennel Milling Co. on July 17 announced preliminary plans for a $9.5 million modernization project at its milling facility in Fostoria.

The project will include an upgrade of existing rail infrastructure, packaging capabilities as well as warehousing footprint. 

 The company, which is headquartered in Fostoria, has traditionally produced and distributed flour in bulk quantities, such as rail car, semi-truck trailer, 2,000-lb super sacks, and 50-lb bags. But with the recent shortage of family-sized flour during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the company will be investing in smaller pack sizes, including 2-, 5-, 10- and 25- lb bags. 

 “This project represents a long-term investment in our operations, team and industry,” said Ford Mennel, president of Mennel Milling. “I couldn’t be prouder of our team’s efforts to support and respond to the ever-changing needs of our customers, especially during these unprecedented times.”

 Phase one of the project will include a 50,000-square-foot expansion of the packing and loading department and warehouse facility along Findlay Street in Fostoria and is slated to begin later this month. Additionally, interior work of the current facility already has begun to accommodate the new equipment.

Construction is expected to continue through 2021.

“Critical support from both community and industry partners have attributed to the overall feasibility of this project as well as the expedited timeline,” Ford Mennel said. “We’re sincerely grateful for assistance provided by Fostoria Economic Development Corp., Regional Growth Partnership, JobsOhio, and the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) for providing a generous grant toward the expansion of our rail infrastructure.”

 The ORDC on July 15 approved a grant award in the amount of $75,000 to Mennel Milling to expand on-site rail infrastructure needed to accommodate the additional expansion.

Matthew Dietrich, executive director of the ORDC, said Mennel is part of a very important industry.

“This spring, many of us gained a new appreciation of baking flour as we did a lot more cooking and baking at home,” he said. “This expansion project in Ohio not only provides jobs and investment but also increases the capacity to provide bagged flour to consumers. It is just one more reminder of the time, investment and resources needed for our supply chains to support our economy.”

Rob Hammer, director of logistics at Mennel Milling, said, “Our project includes a rail spur coming off the Norfolk Southern track to service one of our facilities and will allow us to rail flour directly to the facility for a large flour packaging operation across the street from the mill.“

Last year, Mennel added a new small pack system at the company’s flour mill in Logan, Ohio. The investment expanded the facility’s capabilities while diversifying product offerings across the company.

Operating for more than 130 years, Mennel Milling is the eighth largest flour milling company in the United States with a daily production capacity of 49,500 cwts, according to Sosland Publishing Company’s 2020 Grain & Milling Annual. Its flour mills are located in Mount Olive, Ill.; Dowagiac, Mich.; Fostoria, Logan and Bucyrus, Ohio; and Roanoke, Va.