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Dakota Specialty Milling completes $15 million expansion with new Fargo facility

FARGO -- Dakota Specialty Milling began doing business in Fargo in 1969 when the company's first mill was set up. But CEO Peter Matthaei's family can trace its milling roots much farther back than

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Peter Matthaei, CEO of Dakota Specialty Milling, talks about new equipment that is part of the company's multi-million dollar expansion project. Dave Olson/The Forum
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FARGO - Dakota Specialty Milling began doing business in Fargo in 1969 when the company’s first mill was set up.

But CEO Peter Matthaei’s family can trace its milling roots much farther back than that.

“I’m fifth generation in the U.S.,” Matthaei said, adding, however, that milling has been a part of his family since 1686, when ancestors started a bakery in Germany.

“That’s 300 years of continuous operation,” Matthaei said.

Today, Dakota Specialty has five locations in Fargo and one in St. Louis, Mo., and its newest facility, located at 4014 15th Ave. N. in Fargo, just celebrated completion of a $15 million expansion.

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The work resulted in a larger footprint and new equipment that will double and possibly triple production capacity.

In addition, the expansion project created changes in how work gets done, and while some jobs are going away due to automation other jobs are being created, in part to keep the machines going, Matthaei said.

A net gain of 30 new jobs is possible in the future, though the exact number of jobs and when they happen is yet to be worked out, Matthaei said.

The company, which has customers in all 50 states and 10 countries, now has about 120 workers in the Fargo area.

The St. Louis location has about 80 employees.

The history of Dakota Specialty Milling includes a major chapter on Roman Meal, a company whose bread and bun-making arm was sold some time ago to someone outside the Matthaei family.

But Dakota Specialty’s emphasis on whole grains remains.

“My great-grandfather started Roman Meal company and their tagline was always ‘whole grain goodness,’’’ Matthaei said.

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“Our family has always been in the game of promoting whole grain because of the benefits of eating all parts of the grain,” he added.

Matthaei said information about the company’s customers is kept under wraps, but he hinted as to one of them.

“We currently supply the largest bakery, cereal and snack food manufacturer in the country,” Matthaei said.

John Schneider, economic development and finance division director at the North Dakota Department of Commerce, recently lauded Dakota Specialty as an example of a company that is leading in the area of innovation.

“This value-added agriculture project reflects our strong business climate and the ongoing economic development that sets North Dakota apart,” Schneider said.

Matthaei said recent developments in U.S. trade policy have sparked concern within the company, but so far none of Dakota Specialty’s trade partners are seriously affected by talk of tariffs.

“Things can change in a hurry so it’s something we keep an eye on,” Matthaei said, adding that the company recently hosted a delegation from Japan, one of its trade partners, and U.S. policy was much discussed.

“Everyone is concerned with what’s going on with tariffs,” Matthaei said.

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Come what may, Matthaei said he hopes the company continues to grow and its seven-year plan aims to keep the possibilities open.

“We feel that we’re not owners of the company, we’re stewards of the company trying to pass it along to the next generation,” Matthaei said.

 

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New robotics are part of a major expansion/improvement project at Dakota Specialty Milling. Dave Olson/The Forum

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