More than 400
shareholders at Spring Wheat Bakers' annual meeting recently in Fargo had a chance to see, hear and "taste" the co-op's progress over the past year.
SWB officials reported on five primary areas of accomplishment: Finalization of a strategic alliance relationship; the formalization of a grain merchandising
system; the purchase of bakery equipment; the retrofitting of the plant; and the startup of bakery operations.
A highlight of the meeting was the opportunity to taste bread products
produced at the McDonough, Georgia plant. Members sampled a dinner roll that was produced, par-baked and frozen at the SWB plant and transported to Fargo where it was baked off and served to members, hot
out of the oven.
Since the start of the co-op in 1996, SWB has accomplished a great deal in achieving its objectives. In a little over three years, it has accumulated
$24 million of equity investment completely debt-free. This is partially due to the initial financial commitment of its membership, almost 3,000 grain producers from across ND, SD, MN and MT. And, the strategic
purchase and design of SWB's first bakery plant in Georgia. Located in the Atlanta marketplace, the 100,000 square foot facility is strategically
located to take advantage of the fastest-growing market in the eastern U.S.
A critical component of SWB's success promises to result from the
strategic alliance partnership it has built with Rich Products Company.
Headquartered in Buffalo, NY, Rich Products Company is a worldwide bakery leader in all bakery areas: doughnuts, muffins, cookies, cakes,
icing, pizza crusts, and breads. Known for its product development and research, Rich's is considered a leader in frozen dough technology, and is often considered the "founding father" of frozen dough.
"We see our relationship with Spring Wheat Bakers as a first in the industry, where we can reach back through the supply chain to create products of greater quality and value," said Jim Green, Vice President of
Bakery Products with Rich Products Corporation. Bread products produced at the SWB plant will be distributed through Rich's strong network of customers nationwide, which includes Perkins Family Restaurants.
SWB plans to become a nationwide distributor of par-baked bread products by taking advantage of the growth of the market for par-baked products; by supplying high quality, consistent products; and by creating
strategic alliances with key customers.
"We believe that during the next five years, we have the potential to grow this business to $100 million in revenue," says President and CEO, Gary
Lee. He says this will be achieved by developing a nationwide, par-baked manufacturing system that optimizes costs and provides value in the supply chain.