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Fargo-based Dakota Specialty Milling expands to meet growing demand

FARGO -- Dakota Specialty Milling's multimillion-dollar expansion project won't result in a bigger facility footprint when everything is done Feb. 28, 2017, but it will allow for big growth.

Peter Matthaei, president of Dakota Specialty Milling, in the company's gluten-free Fargo plant on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Peter Matthaei, president of Dakota Specialty Milling, in the company's gluten-free Fargo plant on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO - Dakota Specialty Milling's multimillion-dollar expansion project won't result in a bigger facility footprint when everything is done Feb. 28, 2017, but it will allow for big growth.

The Fargo-headquartered company, which opened its first mill on 12th Avenue North in 1969, is replacing its machinery with new equipment one line at a time at the second mill and packaging operation it opened in 1990 at 4014 15th Ave. N.

Keeping the operation going while working through a major expansion is a bit like playing a game of Chinese checkers, said CEO Bill Matthaei, but President Peter Matthaei said the project is crucial to meet rising demand for its specialty products.

"Not only are we going to grow our capacity, but we're also going to become much more efficient with the new technologies on the cleaning side, the milling side and better quality of the items we're making," he said. "It'll increase our current capacity by about 300 to 400 percent."

City leaders and North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple will visit the facility Tuesday, Oct. 4, for an expansion kickoff and celebration.

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Growing demand

Dakota Specialty Milling now has about 110 full-time-equivalent workers and added a separate gluten-free plant on a nearby property in Fargo's industrial park last year, a move that allows the company to tap into growing demand for gluten-free flours and products.

The ingredient supplier processes and sells flours and commodity items to the industry, Peter Matthaei said, with its products found in breads, crackers, chips, snacks and other foods that are available in all 50 states and 13 countries.

Bill Matthaei said the main facility now undergoing an expansion was built bigger than necessary in 1990 so it would have room for future growth. But the plant is now full, and Peter Matthaei said the original plan was to add another building to the site to increase operations.

Instead, the company decided to replace its equipment with state-of-the-art gear that can automize palletizing and packaging to sort more grain per hour and boost efficiency without requiring more room.

Dakota Specialty Milling also has more land for future growth, he said. In addition to its newer gluten-free facility on a nearby site in the industrial park, the company bought another warehouse just across the street, giving it one continuous stretch of land that could be used for more warehouses, office space and possibly another mill tower.

Bill Matthaei said interest in whole grains is on the rise, at least partially because national food policy revisions now say people should get more whole grain-based foods in their diets.

"We see it as a real opportunity for our business," he said.

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Peter Matthaei said the industry is also seeing increased demand for vegetable-type flours made from pulse crops, such as lentils and peas, as well as gluten-free options, ancient grains and even using more whole grains to boost the nutritional value of foods like cookies, crackers and beverages.

"Our largest area of growth right now is probably snack foods," he said.

Peter Matthaei, president of Dakota Specialty Milling, in the company's gluten-free Fargo plant on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Toasted doughnut toppings fall from the oven Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, at the main Fargo plant of Dakota Specialty Milling. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Related Topics: FARGO
Ryan Johnson is the Features Editor for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Since joining The Forum's staff in 2012, he has also reported on several beats, including higher education, business and features. Readers can reach him at 218-791-9610 or rmjohnson@forumcomm.com
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