GRAND FORKS — One might want to call it Christmas in July. Playing the role of Santa Claus would have to be Vance Taylor, president and CEO of the North Dakota Mill and Elevator.
After a mill record-breaking profit year, Taylor on Wednesday, July 26, handed out gainsharing checks to employees as they waited in line to have a complimentary lunch across from company offices in Grand Forks.
Taylor won’t go into particulars until the Industrial Commission announces profits on Sept. 7, but he did reveal that employees received checks equivalent to 27% of their salaries for the fiscal year 2022-23.
The average check per employee, which includes office personnel, amounted to $24,000. Last year’s gainsharing totaled about $19,000 per employee.
Greg Murphy, a 17-year employee, said he hadn’t seen his check yet. No need.
“It’s already spent,” his wife, Barb, said with a smile.
Many of the employees already have a place in mind to use the cash.
Jared Bjerke, an eight-year employee who works as a grain handler in the terminal, says his son needs new braces.
In the meantime, boxcar cleaner Robert Kessel is thinking about the future. He plans to stash money in mutual accounts. He also might make some extra payments on a 2013 Alumacraft boat he recently purchased.
“It feels really good,” Kessel said of the check. “I’ll put it to work, make more money off of it.”
Todd Thorson, who retires at the end of the month after 38 years at the mill, has similar thoughts.
“I’ll put it in savings for now,” he said.
Thorson worked as a forklift driver and a boxcar cleaner over the years.
“I think it’s a great place to work,” Thorson said. “It’s got great benefits. I’ve raised a family on this wage. It’s been good.”
Taylor mentioned that the mill has several job openings. He encourages people to apply.
A new hire on the job for just a few days stopped for the company lunch. He was assured he will be part of next year’s gainsharing.
“Employees deserve it,” Taylor said. “They worked hard for it. We had a great year. The picnic is always fun. We run the place 24/7 most of the time. “
The mill now runs 10 mill units totaling 60,500 hundredweight of flour production daily.
“We are the largest wheat mill in the country,” Taylor said.
The mill began operating October 1922 as a value-added market for wheat produced in North Dakota. In the early 1900s, the flour mills and grain exchange in Minneapolis were the primary wheat markets for North Dakota farmers and elevators. After freight costs to Minneapolis were deducted from Minneapolis market prices, North Dakota farmers received a low price for their wheat. The North Dakota mill came into existence to help solve the problem.
It’s the only state-owned milling facility in the United States.
Source : Grand Forks Herald