Cloud L. Cray, Sr., a Detroit investment banker, arrived in Atchison, Kansas in September 1941 to inspect a dormant fuel alcohol plant with the intention of having its equipment dismantled and reconstructed in Michigan. His fondness for the Kansas town, the enthusiasm of local leaders, and the plant's location in the heart of America's grain belt, however, persuaded him not to move the Company. Instead, he decided to purchase and revive the plant at its present site to produce industrial alcohol for Allied war efforts during World War II.
Immediately after the war, production and marketing emphasis shifted to beverage alcohol, concentrating first on serving large suppliers and bottlers, and later on meeting the needs of smaller firms around the country as well. During the 1950s, MGP embarked on an aggressive program to broaden its customer base. It was during this decade, too, that Cloud L. "Bud" Cray, son of Company founder Cloud L. Cray, Sr., became increasingly involved in the management of the burgeoning business. Bud Cray eventually served for several years as President of the Company and later as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
The installation of a plant which utilized wheat for recovering wheat gluten, the protein portion of the grain, set the pace for major diversification. In 1953, equipment was added for producing vital wheat gluten that was then used in making monosodium glutamate. Production later was switched to vital wheat gluten, which retains its elastic and cohesive properties and adds a desired texture to bakery products. Demand for this products resulted in substantial growth of production facilities and the establishment of an independent gluten division in 1959.
Wheat processing gained additional significance with the Company's establishment of a wheat starch division in 1965. Initially, wheat paste was separated from wheat slurry, dried and turned into a powder form for making wallpaper paste. Later, the starch was developed into a multi-functional product used extensively in the baking and food industries and also for various industrial applications.
Occurrences in the 1950s, '60s and '70s also set the stage for numerous other significant events, including the purchase of a second major plant in Pekin, Illinois, in 1980. This also was the year Bud Cray's son-in-law, Ladd Seaberg, was named the Company's President. He later succeeded Mr. Cray as Chairman of the Board after turning over the role of President to Tim Newkirk in 2006.
In 1995, the Company completed a major expansion project which was designed to double its total alcohol production capacity and significantly increase wheat starch and wheat gluten capacities.
In 2001, the Company purchased a protein and starch mixing plant in Kansas City, Kansas. This acquisition allowed the Company to increase capacity for serving customers in need of specialty ingredient solutions, including Pet Industry products. The company sold this plant and its pet-related business in August 2009. In 2005, the Company acquired a facility in Onaga, Kansas, for manufacturing plant-based biopolymers and wood composites. Assets related to this component of the Company’s business were later sold as MGP placed increased focus on its food ingredients and distillery products segments. In November 2009, MGP entered into a joint venture agreement to reactivate distillery operations at the Pekin facility. As the result of this agreement, the facility is owned and operated by a separate entity called Illinois Corn Processing, LLC.
In late December 2011, MGP’s beverage alcohol production and service capabilities were further strengthened with the acquisition of facilities owned by Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana, LLC (LDI). Assets included in this purchase included LDI’s distillation operations, bulk barrel warehousing, tank farm and grain storage facilities. The acquisition not only increased the Company’s production capacity for distilled gins and grain neutral spirits, but also made possible the addition of premium bourbon and corn and rye whiskeys to MGP’s lines of world class beverage alcohol products. As a result, and combined with MGP’s pre-existing capacity, the purchase has positioned the Company as the leading U.S. producer of white goods (gin and grain neutral sprits) in the U.S., as well as the sole multi-line producer in the domestic beverage alcohol industry. This positioning not only aligns with, but is strongly indicative of MGP’s strategic focus on being a preeminent supplier of naturally-derived, grain-based solutions that uniquely add value to customer innovations in the branded packaged goods industry.
MGP currently employs approximately 270 men and women throughout its corporate complex, and also has the capacity to utilize several million bushels of grain annually.
From its relatively modest beginnings, MGP has evolved over the decades to become a multi-faceted provider of value-added ingredient solutions derived from grain. Today, the Company is the largest U.S. producer of specialty wheat proteins and starches and one of the country’s largest and most established producers of natural food grade alcohol.
With full integration of production operations, and through extensive research and development, MGP has created a successful formula for efficiently supplying its customers with high quality, highly functional products derived from natural sources.
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