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Minnesota, Michigan sugar companies' top management positions change

Paul Fry formally began work as Renville-based Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Co-op president and CEO on July 12, 2022. Michigan Sugar Co.’s board of directors has hired a national firm to conduct a search for a new president and CEO to replace Mark Flegenheimer, who announced in early July his plans to retire after a 40-year career in the sugar industry.

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Sugarbeet industry veteran Paul Fry began his new job in July 2022 as president and CEO of Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Co-op in Renville.

Fry has spent his entire career working in the sugarbeet industry, most recently as vice president of operations at Minn-Dak Farmers Co-op in Wahpeton, North Dakota, a position he had held since 2107.

The shareholder-owned sugar cooperative announced in June that Fry was elected to the position. He formally began work at Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Co-op on July 12, 2022.

Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Co-op, a farmer-owned producer of beet sugar, has more than 500 shareholders. The co-op,which was founded in 1974, produces as much as 1 billion pounds of sugar annually at its factory in southern Minnesota.

Fry, who graduated from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, with bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and psychology, specializes in facility improvement plans including operational cost reduction, increased throughput and capital project implementation.

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Previous to his most recent jobs, Fry’s career in the sugarbeet industry has included ownership of a private engineering consulting firm and process engineer positions at American Crystal Sugar Co., based in Moorhead, Minnesota, and at Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative.

Steve Dommn, former SMBSC president and CEO, announced his retirement in March 2022, and at that time the board of directors began searching globally for a replacement with assistance from the search firm of Kincannon & Reed.

Michigan Sugar

Michigan Sugar Co.’s board of directors has hired a national firm to conduct a search for a new president and CEO to replace Mark Flegenheimer, who announced in early July his plans to retire after a 40-year career in the sugar industry.

The Michigan Sugar Co. board of directors retained the national search firm Kincannon & Reed to conduct a search for a new President and CEO. The process is expected to take six to nine months, according to the Michigan Sugar Co. website.

Flegenheimer earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and worked for 11 years as a sugar commodities trader in New York City before joining Michigan Sugar Co., according to the Michigan Sugar Co. website.

Flegenheimer’s career with the Saginaw, Michigan, company began in 1994 when he was hired as vice president of administration.

In 1998, he became president. Under Flegenheimer’s leadership Michigan Sugar Co. became a grower-owned cooperative in 2002. Two years later, it merged with Monitor Sugar Co.

Since the formation of the cooperative, annual sugar production has about doubled from 630 million pounds to 1.2 billion pounds and the amount of fuel used has been reduced by more than 40% under Flegenheimer’s leadership. Recently Flegenheimer oversaw a major upgrade to Michigan Sugar Co’s Crosswell factory.

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As part of the transition in management, Jim Ruhlman was named Michigan Sugar Co. chief operating officer and oversees daily operations, reporting to the board of directors. He recently was the company’s executive vice president and oversaw the agricultural and information technology and packaging and warehousing departments.

Related Topics: SUGARBEETSAGRICULTURE
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