Michigan Sugar Co. names Neil Juhnke president and CEO

Neil Juhnke has worked in agri-business and the food processing industry for 32 years.

Neil Juhnke Photo.jpg
Neil Juhnke is president and CEO of Michigan Sugar Co.
Contributed / Brose Photography

North Dakota native Neil Juhnke is the new president and CEO of Michigan Sugar Co.

Juhnke will assume the position on April 3, 2023, that previously was held by Mark Flegenheimer, who had led the Bay City, Michigan-based company for 40 years. Jim Rhulman, Michigan Sugar chief operating officer, was in charge of the company’s day-to-day operations while a search was being held to replace Flegenheimer, who announced his retirement in July 2022 .

Juhnke earned bachelor’s degree of mechanical engineering from North Dakota State University in Fargo in 1990, then completed a management program at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 2002. He has worked in agribusiness and the food processing industry for 32 years.

Juhnke began his career at American Crystal Sugar in Moorhead, Minnesota, where he worked his way up to ag operations manager, a position in which he was responsible for the harvest, storage and transportation of the sugarbeet crop. In 2005, Juhnke helped found and develop Northstar Agri Industries, a canola processing and refining plant near Hallock, Minnesota.

Before he accepted the position at Michigan Sugar, Juhnke was vice president of manufacturing and operations for Red River Commodities , a food processing company, based in Fargo, that is made up of four divisions and seven factories located In Kansas, North Dakota and Texas.


“Michigan Sugar Company is fortunate to have found someone to lead our cooperative who has a resume of diverse business experiences and a proven track record in the agribusiness and food sectors,” James Roggenbuck, Michigan Sugar board chair said in a news release. Juhnke’s management strengths, which include strategic planning, team building and shareholder relations, will generate business success, Roggenbuck said.

“Most importantly, he has a career rooted in the sugar industry . He knows how to make sugar, and that is where our focus should be,” he said.

Working for Michigan Sugar will be rewarding, Juhnke said.

“I’ve experienced every model of business — from publicly traded to privately owned — and I can’t tell you how many benefits I see working for a grower-owned company,” he said.

Juhnke and his wife, Heidi, will move to Bay City, Michigan, from Lake Park, Minnesota. The couple has four adult children and four grandchildren.

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