CANDO, N.D. — North Dakota’s first integrated mill and pasta plant is for sale.
An advertisement in the national trade magazine, Milling & Baking News. describes a plant at Cando, N.D., which owned by Bektrom Foods.
For the past two years or so, the chairman of the board of the company has been former North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, of Casselton, N.D., a leader in the state’s pasta industry.
"It would be great if we could find a substantial use for it," Dalrymple said.
The ad describes a plant and mill with an operating capacity of 206,400 pounds of pasta per day, or about 45 million pounds of finished product per year. As of August the plant will have been operated for a year, leased by Enterprise CP (co-packing), at Long Prairie, Minn.
The plant in Cando is 151,256 square feet, on nearly 17.6 acres. The original construction was in 1980, with minor additions through 1987. The plant was “purpose-built” for Noodles by Leonardo at the time.
Jeffrey J. Counsell, cofounder and managing broker of Global Food Properties, in the Chicago area, said there is no specific asking price. The company solicited bids in a sealed-bid document.
“Bids were due July 3,” Counsell said. “We’ve had interest, but the interest was delayed due to COVID, based on business travel (restrictions). There’s no hard date.”
In a 2017 story in Agweek, Bektrom Foods described itself as an international “dry grocery” manufacturer based in Syosset, (Long Island) N.Y., and then primarily owned by the Barbella family. James R. “Jim” Gibbens of Cando, 70, a shareholder in the company, said his family’s farm provides more than half of the spring wheat for the plant, a relationship that continues.
Today, the officers of Bektrom Foods are Thomas Barbella, president, and his brother, Stephen Barbella, secretary. The board includes a group of North Dakota farmers closely associated with the pasta and food industries, Gibbens acknowledged.
The company’s website lists shipping points in Monroe, Mich., and Colgate, N.D.
According to the Bektrom website, its Monroe headquarters was founded as a flour mill in the early 1900s. The company says it is in 38,000 stores nationwide and lists retailers including KMart, WinnDixie, Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only, and brands that include Loretta, Gourmet Select, and Caley’s Kitchen. It includes 250 SKUs or separate product items, including macaroni and cheese, pasta salads, instant potatoes. The company says it exports to 18 countries.
As of 2017, Bektrom had been an 85% owner of the Cando plant since 2014, after a stock swap with the Gibbens family of Cando. Bektrom since reduced to 20% ownership.
Dalrymple said the plant is leased to Enterprise C-P, managed by Bruce Satrom, who has been in several pasta enterprises. Gibbens said the plant employs about 10 and grinds grain into semolina (durum wheat) or farina (spring wheat), and presses it into “short-goods” pasta (macaroni, elbows, shells, and sticks).
In April 2013, Jim GIbbens and his cousin, Bruce a Cando., lawyer, bought the Cando plant. In 2014 employees from the North Dakota Mill and Elevator in Grand Forks, N.D., helped the Gibbens learn how to run it. The Gibbenses found Bektrom Foods as a majority shareholder.
Since 2016 and 2017, a group of former owners of Dakota Growers Pasta Co. investor/officials purchased stock and have become board members of Bektrom. Among them are Gene Nicholas of Cando, N.D., a former state legislator, as well as Jim and Bruce Gibbens, Roger Kenner from Leeds, as well Ron D. Offutt of Fargo, who was not associated with Dakota Growers .
Dalrymple said he isn't a large shareholder but agreed to come on board. He said it is "interesting" and said some who were active in ag-related businesses in the 1990s "can't get this out of our system; we love to see value-added."
Today, Bektrom is consolidating activity in Monroe, Mich., Gibbens said. The company is buying pasta from others, including Philadelphia Macaroni Co. Inc. Dalrymple said he couldn't say how much is from Philadelphia Macaroni, but acknowledged there are many contacts there: Since April 1, 2020, Ed Irion, was named president of Philadelphia Macaroni, had been chief financial officer for Dalrymple at Dakota Growers Pasta and ended up there as president and general manager, under a later owner. T m Dodd is president of Philadelphia Macaroni Co.’s four milling division, known as Minot Milling, was chief executive officer at Dakota Growers Pasta.
Bektrom produces bulk tote pasta for mixing in other owned facilities, for ultimate sale under private label in leading retailers, according to the sales ad.
The plant was built as Noodles by Leonardo plant, founded by Minneapolis area businessman Leonard Gasparre, and had 225 employees at its peak in 1989. Gasparre died in 2011. His family owned a separate plant at Devils Lake, N.D., which was sold to Ultra Green Packaging.