ARVA, ONT. — A local businessman has stepped forward to acquire the 202-year-old Arva Flour Mill located in Arva, Ont.

Mark Rinker, who recently retired as vice president of sales at a pharmacy automation company, has acquired the mill from the Matthews family, which has owned and operated the mill for the past 100 years. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Mr. Rinker said he was drawn to the mill because he spent time there as a boy with his father.

“It’s simple really; being at the mill gives me joy,” Mr. Rinker said. “From a very young age I formed a bond with the property, the people and processes that make the mill special. I have recently retired as VP sales with a pharmacy automation company and the timing was just right. When I approached the Matthews family with our vision for the property and the business, we found alignment immediately in preserving the property and legacy for future generations to enjoy. Keeping the rich history and traditions of the mill intact are as important to me as any commercial success.”

According to the company, approximately 100 individual customers visit the mill each day and the mill also has a few select retail partners located throughout Southwestern Ontario, including Remark Fresh Markets in London and Windsor. The mill has daily wheat flour capacity of 300 cwts and 20,000 bus of storage capacity, according to Sosland Publishing Co.’s 2021 Grain & Milling Annual.

Mr. Rinker said he envisions growing in new and existing markets through expansion and modernization, including an investment in updating equipment and new infrastructure for new products.

“We want to continue to honor and serve the existing customers that have kept this mill going for many generations while looking into buildings and equipment to serve new markets,” Mr. Rinker said. “We’ll invest immediately in some automation to begin to mill gluten-free flours. This will be done in a separate building with new and dedicated equipment to prevent cross contamination. Expansion will allow for more people to be able to come onsite and experience the magic of this place without changing the mill or its important natural environment.”

In addition to mill upgrades, Mr. Rinker has plans to partner long term with a winery and/or distillery onsite to increase foot traffic to the property as well as expand distribution of the Arva Mills flour and dried good items beyond the on-site store via specialty retailers and farm-to-table partners.

“There’s a strong artisan and craft food movement in North America, and we plan to play an active role in it,” he said.

Mr. Rinker also is considering other uses for the mill’s dam, including ways to have the hydroelectric power from the dam power the entire property with an eventual goal of a net carbon zero footprint, a goal he said is well within reach.

“This property is part of a very special ecosystem, and we are taking our responsibility to steward the land very seriously,” Mr. Rinker said. “Providing approval from key stakeholders, the water mill turbine will be repurposed to pair with a generator to make our own electricity.  The goal is to totally offset current hydro use and be a net zero carbon food producer.”

Mr. Rinker said he’ll work closely with the Matthews family ensure a smooth transition.

“We had a lot of interest from multiple parties all over the world who wanted to re-develop the land, but ultimately, Mark’s vision to respect and continue the legacy of what our family has built over the last 100 years was most important to us,” said Mike Matthews, former mill owner. “We’re thrilled that the mill will continue to operate and is in local hands. We’ll be around to continue to support Mark and his family with whatever they need. We couldn’t be happier with how things worked out.”