Fueling America’s Breakfast with Star of the West Milling Company President Jim Howe

It was 150 years ago that Star of the West started up in Frankenmuth.  During that time, the company has seen and been through many events in our country.  From supplying the ingredients to make breakfast cereals, bread flour and other essential items we need every day.  In this interview, Jim takes us down memory lane to share with us his insights on lessons they learned from the past as well as the impact Covid-19 had on their current business.  Enjoy!

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Transcript

Cliff_Audio and Jim_Audio

  Cliff Duvernois: [00:00:12] Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the call of leadership podcast, where we hear stories and advice from leaders in our Michigan community. So we can be better leaders for ourselves, our families, and in our communities. I am your host Cliff Duvernois. And today I have the privilege of sitting down with the gentlemen who’s in charge of probably one of the biggest businesses in the Frankenmuth area.

That you really don’t think about. This is the non tourist business of Frankenmuth that has had such an impact on the local history and the local community. Today I have the honor and the privilege of speaking with Jim, how the president of Star of the West milling company.

Jim, how are you?

Jim Howe, Star of the West Milling Company: [00:00:50] I’m fine.

How are you today?

Cliff Duvernois: [00:00:52] I’m doing well. Thank you for asking. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about where you’re from and where you grew up.

Jim Howe: [00:00:56] I actually grew up in the  greater Saginaw area, Saginaw County, and the hemlock st. Charles area in a farm. or my father was still farming. So I found my way to Frankenmuth via Michigan state university, after working on an ag ag degree and ended up at star of the West.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:01:12] Now, why did you decide to go into agriculture?

Jim Howe: [00:01:16] Well, my, my family are long time farmers and it was just second nature to be in the farm. I had had aspirations of staying on the farm. but when I got out of college in the eighties, interest rates were high. Farm prices were low and. And it just was a tough time to be an agriculture farming.

So I found myself at star of the West with the idea of working a couple of years and a couple of years has turned to almost 40. So,

Cliff Duvernois: [00:01:41] Which is quite an accomplishment. Why did you decide to take an intro? P E I’m sorry, let me try that again. Why did you decide to take an internship here at the star of the West?

Jim Howe: [00:01:53] So I was extended the internship. I didn’t quite honestly I’m on the other side of the County, but I didn’t hardly know how to get to Frankenmuth, which is you had this natural barrier called the  game reserve. That separates my, where I grew up in, in Frankenmuth. But, so I came over and did an interview with, with Richard graft, Dick craft.

And, it was an interesting, I knew about the community a little bit and I just thought it’d be a great opportunity to. To spend at least my first job in a kind of a tourist town in a, in an old established business.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:02:24] Excellent. And I, and I do really want to go back and explore the, the old established business aspect of it. You mentioned before that you came here under an internship and you’ve been here now for 40 years. What is it about the company that, that you decided, you know what, I’m just going to hang my hat here and keep right on.

Plugging away.

 Jim Howe: [00:02:43] it really came down. It was a, it’s a culture, it’s a family based culture.

 the company’s been here and Frank most that started here in 1870 as a, as a flour milling company.  when I came on with the company, there were three and almost four locations who in the process of buying a new location,  we’ve added several locations, sup subsequently sense. So it was an opportunity for me to grow with an organization and, And that’s, I guess that’s what the lure was.

The people are awesome and it was just a great community, instills a great community.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:03:14] I know that culture is really important when it comes to businesses.

Is there some aspect of the culture that really drew you here?

Jim Howe: [00:03:21] It really came back as mentioned to people, of course, Dick craft, and then he, he was my.

Original mentor. And then following on a Dick’s heels was art Leffler. And I worked for art. Art was here as our controller when I started, and then our assumed, president CEO of the company in 1997 on Dick’s retirement. And art was just a great guy to work for as well. And he allowed me to expand my career if you will, and, and take on new challenges that, and that’s what the, that’s what excited me and kept me going.

So. So I had multiple jobs from driving truck to being an, a ground of switch on the ground, on buses, out, looking at fields. And that was part of my background at Michigan state was,  and I had a pretty good background in wheat. So looking for diseases and past and how to, how to grow better crops. And then I was able to move into a managerial role and to the role I’m in today, where I’ve been since 1st of April of 2018.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:04:19] So it sounds like you’ve actually done a lot of jobs here at the star of the West Mellon company.

Jim Howe: [00:04:23] Yeah. I have literally worked in every aspect of the company from, in the mills to when they had feed mills, the plant food area, working with farmers. I had a long history of working with the local growers and from here to the thumb of Michigan and which was very enjoyable to spend time out with farmers and helping them to be more, more, profitable on their farms.

That was always the, the, the exciting part to help them improve their farms.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:04:49] What impact do you think working all the jobs and learning every aspect of the business has. Helped you with regards to being now the, the in charge, the president

Jim Howe: [00:05:00] to a certain degree, it’s much like I grew up on the farm. Every job had to get done.

There was not one job that was more important than the other, because every job was contingent to get job or to get done. And, In the role I have today, I can ask an employee to do anything that I haven’t already done myself. There’s there’s no bad jobs here. And I’ve, I’ve had an experience from anything from a washing trucks to changing oil, to driving trucks, to actually packed flour and bag beans and did sales roles and blood and fertilizer and manage people.

So it’s been, when I look back, it’s been a pretty exciting,  Fun lot of hours, but a fun career so never was work

Cliff Duvernois: [00:05:41] Wow. That’s interesting. That’s something I don’t hear enough of. Is that it doesn’t feel like work. Let’s go back and explore something you mentioned, mentioned before. And I do really want to spend some time on this.

Let’s talk about the history of the star of the West. So, so when was the, when was the company initially founded? Who founded the company?

Jim Howe: [00:06:03] So if you. Frankenmuth was established in 1845. There were 15 German settlers came over missionaries and they started the fledgling community. And then in 1848, the Frank Muth milling company was established, which was very common in every small town across the country.

 and that was located on the banks of the caste river and powered by water.  It was owned by the Hubinger family, that they were multi-generational flour, Millers. They came over and then there were two sons and they were both Johan or John. There was John Matthew and John George. And so they started the company in 1870 on the other end of town.

And that was considered high tech in 1870 because the male didn’t no longer was required to run on water, but on steam. So there was a big boiler and big piles of what they would put up this boiler. And that’s how that operated the mail. And it was no longer a stolen mail. It was a roller mill using steel instead of stolen to mill and manufacture flour.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:07:03] Excellent. And if I was reading the history of the website, that they, they, they started with $3,000.

Jim Howe: [00:07:11] Yeah, they, which was a lot of money accordingly at the time. But the name itself is somewhat unique as well. And people say star of the West and we do business around the globe. I started a business in Japan, selling export food grade soybeans there.

So when they hear star of the West, they think coming from the U S that’s very, very, Fitting and appropriate. But when you talk to somebody in Nevada or California, they say, what gives you the right to call yourself star of the West? You know,

Cliff Duvernois: [00:07:37] when you’re not in the West.

Jim Howe: [00:07:38] how dare you?

Right. So, but so in 1861, there was a vessel, it was a merchant puzzle that would go from New York to Louisiana, new Orleans and they would ship. All merchandise back and forth. Well then in January of 1861,  that we had things were heating up in the, between the North and the South and the union army had used this vessel to move soldiers into the South.

Well, then the, the Confederate army found out about this vessel out. And so they fired on this vessel and January 9th, 1861. And that became the beginning of the U S civil war, but the name of that merchant vessel was star of the West. And the, the, the thought was the Hubinger family. When they started the new company, right on the heels of the end of the civil war,  they just had a sense of patriotism or they just liked the sound of that boat.

So, so that’s where he got the name

Cliff Duvernois: [00:08:39] interesting with the. With the harbinger harbinger with the Hubinger family and they own this for a number of years. And if, if my memory serves at some point in time, this was bought by a cooperative of farmers.

Jim Howe: [00:08:57] Well, in, in, 1905, there were 50 farmers from the area, the Hubinger family opted to sell them the, the company to 50 farmers.

And it was a partnership. And it was maintained as a partnership until 1929 when the company was incorporated as a incorporated company. So up until that point, all of the minutes had been written in German, but because they were now, it was a, a U S Michigan corporation at the minutes had to be kept in English.

So we started to keeping the minutes then in English from then until today.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:09:29] Yeah. Oh, that is so wild. Do you still have those German minutes in a archive somewhere?

Jim Howe: [00:09:35] Yeah, we actually do. And we have a, we have a safe or vault with all the statements and,  I don’t have the ability to read them, but, but Dick craft who was here, he certainly did.

And he would. During the last recession, when we were looking at statements, we had a lot of growth from the last 10 or 12 years. And what can you learn about history? So we’ve had excerpts. We had financial statements from the depression that we could fall on and say, what did we do then? What did we learn from that?

And he was able to convert that from, from German to English and it served us well, having that history to backend. So

Cliff Duvernois: [00:10:09] Oh, I didn’t even think about that aspect of it. Is this something that, Oh, wow. I don’t even know how to ask that question. Okay. What is it like to be able to look at these pages that were written from Oh so long ago and be able to learn the lessons? Cause they always say, if you don’t learn from history, you’re doomed to repeat it, but it almost seems like you have a hundred year old playbook that you can go back and take a look at it and say, you know, when times were good, this is what they did when times were bad.

This is what they did and they survived. So let’s use this as a starting point.

Jim Howe: [00:10:40] it, you know, you’re exactly right. And that’s, it’s been great to have that resource. Now, this is our hundred and 50th anniversary year, which is, which is a milestone for a lot of companies. Very few. I think the numbers are less than a quarter percent of the U S over make it this far.

So, so we’re very proud of that. We. We had a lot of celebrations planned that we’ve now had to push on and the next year, because of COVID and as a reoccurring theme for a lot of us, but, but having that history and we also had many, many bins full of old pictures,  that we were able to sort out and look.

And so I’ve kind of refreshed my memory and we’re able to call on some of the folks that were here much longer ago than myself to look at this history. it’s it’s. Horse-drawn wagons in front of the organization.  but one of the interesting are most flower companies have a brand. We don’t do much retail flower other than, although lately we’ve been selling more retail, but the name of our flower here is called Nightingale flower.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:11:40] So I’ve seen it.

Jim Howe: [00:11:42] so one of our, local community. Folks that have. So where does the name Nightingale comes from? And I, you know, as long as I’ve been here, I’d never really heard that, but I, I was able to call on mr. Craft. And, and I said, so where does there are no Nightingales in Michigan either? It’s not, it’s a bird.

And, but, so he called and I said, so, so where did we get the name? How did that come to be? And it was named after Florence Nightingale, which was, she was never in Frankenmuth, but she was a. she started modern nursing and she was influential to Clara Barton who nursed back all these union soldiers back in the us civil war.

So we have all these civil war ties,  in our, in our own company history, the name of the company, the name of the flower. So it’s, it’s just interesting to me because I, again, I’m, I’d like history anyway, but so. So when you can look at these pictures, chronological from virtually, when we started to now, and you can see the progression from horses to old trucks, to the semi-trucks we have today.

And of course the technology is so changed within our milling as well. And,  food safety has changed immensely and, but the culture is still from when I started. It’s still very much in play. I like the couch, the company I started with, and that’s why we still appreciate our family. We appreciate our employees and the community we serve.

And we like to be part of the community we serve. So we’re not in the tourism business, but we want to be responsible because we know there are tourists here. We want to keep our properties clean and presentable. And,  and we’re sort of behind the scenes, but we don’t want to become an eyesore to the scenes if you will.

So

Cliff Duvernois: [00:13:15] Certainly. And I know you referenced this before, when you talked about changes, the original mill, you were talking about how it was powered with steam

Jim Howe: [00:13:25] The first one was water.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:13:27] Oh, okay. First one was water

Jim Howe: [00:13:29] then steam and then electricity.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:13:31] if you can drive him diving back into the, the historical archives. H is these kinds of change. Cause this is pretty big going from water to steam, to electricity, it’s a big capital investment to do. And is it, is it something that, from your, from your knowledge of history of the star of the West, is it something that the owners were quick to embrace?

Jim Howe: [00:13:52] it would appear they were, you know, going back to, and I think it was all about efficiencies when you look at capacities and that, that really hasn’t changed.

In 150 years, if you survive in business, you need to have efficiencies. And in the early 19 hundreds, there were 600, approximately 600 flour mills in the state of Michigan. And they were mostly stick scattered along the waterways, the rivers to drive those. And,  but then, then you had to get close to for transportation reasons.

As we, as we went away from horses. We had to have be closer to truck routes and railroads. And so that moved because they were not always next to the rivers. So, so those things have changed, as well.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:14:36] And that would explain why through threw a lot of towns when I’m driving through Michigan, I’ll see these just giant silos that are there. And then

Jim Howe: [00:14:44] you can, you can almost find these grain complexes, just follow the, a rail map and you’ll find them they’re strategically there because of that.

  Cliff Duvernois: [00:15:49] Excellent. Okay. With the, and I know we, we we’ve talked about a co op ownership of a star of the West. What is the history look like from that point going forward to where it is today? Well, how did, how did the, how did the company come to evolve as to what we know it today?

Jim Howe: [00:16:08] So it was never really a cooperative. It was a partnership partnership. and there’s a. A distinct difference between the way they’re set up, but so are 50 local farmers that van together and purchased it because that was the place where they got their animal feed.

They also delivered their corn. Their oats, soy beans were quite actually that are a nonexistent in Michigan.  we got in the dry edible bean business in 1949, which is like the Navy bean and the black turtle bean that would be in park and beans. 4th of July is coming up. That’s a big outdoor people are familiar and of course, Pinto beans.

So we’re, we’re, we’re quite enriched as well in the bean business. we have processing in guara, Michigan and Reese, Michigan, and. And we have places in Minnesota, North Dakota that handle dry beans, Munger, Michigan.  and we shipped those literally in just about every continent in the world. So Africa, Europe, South America,  New Zealand,

Cliff Duvernois: [00:17:05] That’s pretty impressive. Along with the global reach at the same point in time started, the West has been growing.

Jim Howe: [00:17:12] know, we we’ve been, we’ve been have a slow, steady growth curve. we’re still, we still bottle our conservative nature that our forefathers had in here to the German culture that was very conservative and making sure that we were spending dollars appropriately and, and saving money for rainy days.

So those are probably the lessons that we learned from our history that. That there’s times when you need to expand. And there’s other times you need to just, stay study and, and, and keep some money in the bank for cause he could be a rough time. And agriculture is certainly very cyclical and we follow the.

 the agricultural, cycles are generally different than the rest of the nation.  during the recession, when a lot of our friends in the auto industry were suffering and the building industry were suffering, we were very busy. And, during, during the recent COVID.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:18:04] when

Jim Howe, Star of the West Milling Company: [00:18:05] Places were shattered. We were still deemed by the government he central.

So we were very, still busy trying to keep cereal flour for cereal companies and keeping the food on the store shelves and, pantry’s full for folks. So,

Cliff Duvernois: [00:18:19] and that one I can attest to, because I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times that I went out shopping and trying to find bread, flour was impossible. Like the shells had been picked clean. It never saw that before.

Jim Howe: [00:18:31] You know, I, I can’t say that I have either other than talking to my parents about world war two and they couldn’t find sugar and they couldn’t find this and couldn’t buy tires. And that was probably as close as I could recall to that. But yeah, I’ve never, in the consumer.

Is shifted over time from more home cooking to the restaurant. And they were literally pushed back into their homes. So they were looking for things like beans and cake mixes and cereal, and the kids who were not going to school, recent year cereal had been a bit on the decline cause, today’s moms, they’re trying to get more foods into breakfast fires to get the kids off to school.

And now, cause. Paul pouring a bowl of cereal takes a little time. And,  simple as that seems to someone from my era. but young families are busy, so they don’t have the time. So now they’ve, they were, they were at a time finding themselves at home and, and sales become popular. Again, I E cause it’s easy.

 And it’s nutritious and, and such. So, so those everyday store items that you don’t,  You don’t think about are most of them came out of a place like this at one point? Sure,

Cliff Duvernois: [00:19:40] sure. I do want to go back and I w I do want to go back and talk a little bit more about the impact that you’re having on the cereal market. Let’s take a little trip back.

So we’re right now, as we’re recording this interview, we’re sitting in your office, you have this absolutely gorgeous view of the Cass River. It looks phenomenal if memory serves. This property was once owned by the Bronner family.

Jim Howe: [00:20:04] our office was, originally constructed by Wally Bronner, him and his wife, Irene can build it in, in the fifties. And they expanded on it multiple times until they get to a point where traffic and parking were a problem. So they sold their buildings and properties started the West and we moved. From a small office on a side street to this office where we’ve been since, and then they really roll, relocated on the South end of town to where Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland is today.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:20:34] And that was what year was that? 1980,

Jim Howe: [00:20:37] 79, 80. and I, I came in 1981, so that, that move had occurred when I got here. But, but I still. I’ve seen that. Well, if you see the pictures from that time, you can see how our office looks very similar, but, we’re just finishing up a remodeling of a area that used to be a workshop.

And, at one time it was Wally’s paint booth for painting, large Santa and nativity scenes. And he’d get local artesians into the paint fiberglass and, figures and such. And so now it’s office space. So.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:21:10] for our audience that may not be really familiar with Frankenmuth. This would be on the corner of main and Tuscola.

Jim Howe: [00:21:16] Correct.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:21:17] is where the original Bronner’s used to be located prior to moving to the South end of town. Correct? That still blows my mind. It still blows my mind.

So now that you have been here, the, the, the modern day star of the West company, and I heard this statistic it’s, might’ve be rumor. It could be something somebody were just chatting about over lunch, but I had heard that the grain that you keep here within two weeks is going to be in a cereal box.

Jim Howe: [00:21:42] That’d be true.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:21:43] That is true. How much green do you have coming through here?

Jim Howe: [00:21:46] Well, you know, in terms of bushels. So in Frankenmuth, we, we only do wheat in this location. At one time we handled multiple grains, but then we have outlying elevators throughout Michigan grain elevators, where we take corn wheat and soybeans and wheat.

We purchased there. There’s you mentioned bread flour, and I won’t get into a lot of those, but bread flour is distinctly different than the flour that we grow here. The wheat that we grow here in Michigan, there’s two essential wheats. We have. White wheat and red wheat and the white wheat that we predominantly grow, grow in this area.

And mail is for things like raisin, bran, many wheats, all bran, and it has everything to do with the pigmentation and the wheat kernel, but that’s so it’s a very niche market. So we, we we’re nationally, we’re the 14th largest milling company, but in the soft wheats where we’re much larger. Denied. And then white wheat milling, where you really get into specific.

We’re probably arguably the largest white wheat Miller in the country, but it’s for these niche products, the cereal products and food products. So the other parts, things that we use for our cakes, pies, cookies, crackers,  we we’ve got a male. Our newest Miller’s came online three years ago in Willard, Ohio.

And there we, we literally bolt onto the Pepperidge farms, goldfish FAC factory. So freight is a pipe across the parking lot to two 22 lanes of goldfish production and cookies and everything else.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:23:16] Yeah. Oh, that’s hilarious. Your product’s going directly into the little Pepperidge farm goldfish

Jim Howe: [00:23:21] goes directly.

So the time from when it’s mill to goes into a product, there is it’s a 24 seven operation and right. It’s going very quickly.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:23:31] Wow. What, if you can share this, what are some of the other products that are out there?

Like if I was to go to the grocery store right now and you and I were to take a walk down, let’s say the cereal aisle, the cookie aisle, or whatever that is, what products

Jim Howe: [00:23:44] we, we essentially work with.

All of, all of the, primary cereal companies. You would,

Cliff Duvernois: [00:23:49] like Kellogg’s,

Jim Howe: [00:23:51] Kellogg’s post general mills. Then there’s companies that do generic products, which would be your Walmart Kroger Meyer. Those. Those are generic brands as well.  but we, we do crackers as well. in the doughnut flour a lot of year.

I mean, we have, so we have customers that work really towards the school business, commissaries restaurants,  those businesses a little bit soft as a recent. But then, we also, we’re probably the single largest supplier of ice cream cone flower in the nation. So we worked with, companies and, joy cone is a large buyer.

That’s fair. People would be familiar with,  as well as many of the companies that, blue bunny ice cream,  is another one that would, they would use it, not for the ice cream, but for the colon, the wafers, the, the various.  confection type products. Licorice is also a large user of flour. So most of us don’t think about licorice, but, but if some of the, the red vines and the, the, the old black vine licorice, and then some of the sour licorice, that’s mostly made up of flour

Cliff Duvernois: [00:24:59] Well, it’s interesting you say that because I never knew that I thought candy was mostly made of sugar.

Jim Howe, Star of the West Milling Company: [00:25:04] there’s a lot of sugar in there as well

Cliff Duvernois: [00:25:06] Oh, that’s excellent. Excellent. With, with the company being as old as it is and the rich history that’s behind it, the influence that you’ve had on the local community, I have to ask this question. When, when you assumed the president role here at the company, what was it like taking on not only the responsibility of the company, but all of that, the history, especially the brand behind it.

Jim Howe: [00:25:33] Yeah. There’s been a lot of reflection on that, you know, thinking about that and the history and,  knowing the organization’s been here, this, this long, you realize the families that are working here and the importance of keeping our organization financially strong and healthy because of the families that rely on it.

It’s a different responsibility than I really thought about prior to that. And, and the importance of making sure that our employees and their families are, are in good shape as well as not just health wise, but financially and, and, so that they want to have their families. And maybe some of their families will be employees here down the road as well.

We have, if, if we ever adopted a no nepotism policy here, we’d be in trouble because we have a lot of family, much family, a husband and wives, brothers, cousins.  that all employed here.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:26:22] So when you were talking before about the family aspect of culture,

Jim Howe: [00:26:27] we’re literally, we’re,  literally are related to one way or another.

So

Cliff Duvernois: [00:26:31] that’s excellent. Excellent. The, one of the questions that I do want to ask is, and I know we spent a lot of time talking about the history. What are some of your thoughts? What is your, what is your vision as far as star star of the West going forward?

Jim Howe, Star of the West Milling Company: [00:26:48] Well, the world, as we all have learned is not always fair.

So you, you have to continue to move forward. You have to improve your efficiencies, your technologies, and there’s an economy of scale. We have a lot of new people in our organization jobs, so we have a. One individuals. these wouldn’t have occurred when this company is founded. We didn’t have marketing people as such.

We had people that sell flour, but we have people that are responsible for purchasing grains from farmers and other elevators. We have marketing of the product, but then you get into, we have a food. We have a group of people in the food technical area that, and they focus on food safety, food quality ISL programs to make sure every product that a consumer picks off the store shelf is very safe.

And, and, there’s no issues there. That’s very important, you know, things that we have to concern ourselves with they in, in, you’ll see this there’ll be food recalls. So their sole responsibility is to make sure everything that goes everywhere. Product that leaves, this place is free of any defects of any kind. We also then have people that are in charge of occupational safety and security at security day. when I came to work here, all the buildings were open. You could go anywhere you wanted today. You come into the office, you got lock door to go into our mills and our facilities. they’re under tight security there’s cameras just to ward off potential problems.

again, we it’s all in. Consumers to, to protect our consumers because we don’t want issues there. Then we also have a more recent addition because we have a director of sustainability and as I, what does that? So the consumers are very educated, more on their foods. I think people as they’ve been home, they’ve been studying what’s on that box a little bit more.

So we have people that are responsible that I can show you. When you pick up a box of our product that came from our facilities, we can go back to actually the seed that produced it, the farmer that planted it, all the products, all the crop protection inputs that were added to it. All the data, that, that go around there.

So the consumer can have confidence to say, okay, this was done in a sustainable manner. We, we focus on reduced carbon footprint. we, we, the one thing that we look at all of our facilities and we talk about energy early on first, it was the power of the mail. Now we look at how we can. Add renewable energies to our system.

 we were looking at wind and solar and adding those to our facilities as well,  to be, a responsible neighbor on our ground army side. And they didn’t talk too much about that, but what we’re in the top. Top number 35 in the nation on crop protection and for fertility plant food for the country.

And we work with farmers on their farming operations. When we apply fertilizer, these farms today, we, we change fertilizer rates, every meter, every, you know, every three foot about. And we, we can apply fertilizers more accurately on a, on a farmer’s field than I can on my lawn at home.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:29:54] Wow.

Jim Howe, Star of the West Milling Company: [00:29:55] And we will change.

We only put on what’s needed. We know where we’re a peninsula. We’re surrounded by water. We were one of the pioneers. That was one of the projects I started my earlier career. When I could see the technologies were coming and say, you know,  if you go to the Chesapeake area, there’s been a lot of pollution areas.

People hear about the algae blooms in Lake Erie in Ohio. And there’s a lot of those are thought to be runoffs and such farmer, you know, fertilizers and such. So we’ve been very proactive, for almost 25, 30 years now. And adopting technologies, all of our field equipment that we have, which is totally different than our flour milling equipment, but there’s this tie in from the original seed, how that was produced, how that crop was grown, and that comes back, ultimately the consumers, consumer stores and, and, and the sustainability person kind of puts all these pieces together into a presentable mosaic.

So you can see the picture and, So we want to be responsible the environment. again, I come from a history of farmers. I own a farm that was originally cleared by my grandparents with, with stumped, polars and mules and dynamite. So you could farm it today after the longing era. And so those become very important to make sure those are for future generations to continue to, to grow crops and feed our nation.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:31:14] That’s excellent. You take care of the earth and the earth will take care of you

Jim Howe: [00:31:18] essentially. Yeah,

Cliff Duvernois: [00:31:19] That’s excellent. Yeah, Jim, if, if people want to follow what it is that you’re doing, and I know you talked before about, you know, you’ve got a marketing team in place, but if they, if they want to follow what the star of the West is doing, or, you know, a check, check, a check out information, maybe even learn more about the history.

What’s the best ways for them to do that.

Jim Howe: [00:31:37] Well, probably w we got a lot of tech savvy people that, take care of our, we have a Twitter page. We also have a star of the west.com website, but it’ll take you to, directly to Facebook. And there’s where the we’re better. I think our group is very good at keeping day to day updates on what’s going on, both in the food and employee side and, and all of all aspects of what we do in the organization.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:32:00] and for our audience, I will have all those links in the show notes down below Jim.

It’s been really cool having you on the podcast today. No,

Jim Howe: [00:32:09] Thank you for stopping by. 

About The Host

About The Host

Cliff Duvernois

Cliff is the host of “The Call of Leadership” podcast.  He has published over 500 short stories over Facebook, Medium and LinkedIn.  He is a passionate lifelong learner, marketer and philanthropist.  He currently lives in Reese, Michigan with his fiancé Sherry and her two children.

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