The oldest still operating business in Kent County is expanding to continue to serve existing and new customers.
King Milling Co., at 115 S. Broadway St. in Lowell, recently announced a $42 million expansion that will build a new flour mill in Lowell and create hundreds of external jobs.
King Milling President Brian Doyle said hundreds of local people will be involved in the construction of the 35,000-square-foot, six-floor mill, which he expected will be operational by the end of 2023.
“The building of it will take hundreds (of people), and the new jobs that it will create internally, eventually, will be about a dozen,” Doyle said. “Outside of that there are the truckers, the suppliers and everyone else in the supply chain.
“I don’t have a handle on how many people that will be, but it will be major, mostly in terms of the number of truckers and others who work for the suppliers, and we don’t get any credits for that,” Doyle joked.
King Milling is expanding to meet the increased needs of current customers and also to take care of new ones, Doyle said.
Doyle added the builder King Milling chose for the expansion is from Iowa and specializes in plants of the flour mill type.
“A flour mill is a monolithic building,” Doyle said. “We have to build a slip, and it takes a while to prepare for that. There’s equipment being built elsewhere that will grind the flour, but locally, we have engineers, and the excavation will be done by local people.”
The city of Lowell approved a 12-year, 50% tax abatement for the project, Doyle said. In May, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development approved a $250,000 Food and Agriculture Investment Program grant that will enable King Milling to increase capacity of the hard and soft wheat products it produces.
King Milling’s customers make food products for some of the most recognized consumer brands and restaurant chains. All of the company’s soft wheat for pastries, cookies, pies and non-yeast raised things come from Michigan, and its bread wheats come from Nebraska, North Dakota and Kansas.
“This expansion is part of our commitment to being on the leading edge of milling technology and producing the highest-quality flour and wheat products for our customers here in Michigan and around the country,” Doyle said.
“My great grandfather bought into the company in 1890-1900, and then my grandpa bought out the other shareholders, the Kings. It’s the biggest expansion in our history (it’s a 132-year-old company), and as far as we know, in our city.”