What do you have in common with cheesy fish crackers?

Ohio is the number one producer of soft-red winter wheat in the U.S., producing over 72M bushels in 2015. Though wheat acres planted continue to decline across the U.S., our acres in Ohio support more than 12 Ohio-based milling companies who deliver product regionally and abroad.
In the early 2000s, Sunrise Cooperative was looking to solve a problem and found a mutually beneficial relationship with Star of the West Milling Company. Sunrise needed to increase its grain storage, while Star of the West Milling Company was seeking a reliable high-quality wheat source. With an agreement on paper, they began working together and nearly 15 years later both parties still see the relationship as a strength.
“For a strategic partnership to work long-term, both parties need to benefit from it. We have a set quality and quantity of wheat that we expect to give Star of the West each year. In return, our growers have been able to access resources and experience strong marketing opportunities, says retired Vice President of Grain Ron Dentinger.”
Specifically, Dentinger cites the tougher years which involved managing through high vomotoxins levels and sprout. Star of the West helped the Cooperative to source end-markets for the grain, while also helping educate and manage through the challenge. Efficient logistics between the partners have also created competitive basis opportunities and helped several of Sunrise’s smaller facilities to be more competitive in the wheat market.
Nearly one-half to two-thirds of the wheat intake for Sunrise is sent to Star of the West with weekly shipments through short line rail. Sunrise has committed to increasing this amount for Star of the West over the next several years and is actively working with its growers to fulfill the need.
The small storage capacity at the Star of the West mill in Kent, Ohio has always been a challenge. “Our partnership with Sunrise Cooperative is extremely important to us as we are able to garner a steady supply of consistent milling quality wheat. Sunrise has been stellar in working with the short line railroad in meeting our needs in a timely manner,” says Red Michel, Plant Manager for Star of the West. “With the opening of our new mill in Willard, Ohio, we will increase our milling capacity from 400,000lbs daily to milling 1M pounds of flour daily,” says Michel. “This new mill will open as a truck house, with plans for rail expansion, and use predominantly Ohio-grown wheat.” The first truck loads received into the new facility were delivered by Sunrise, another testament to our solid, long term relationship.
What started as a small family business in Frankenmuth, MI has expanded today to the 10th largest milling company in the US. Star of the West operates six mills and thirteen elevators in four states, with the newest in Willard, OH opening just a few weeks ago. Built in 1870 by Johann Hubinger, the initial mill created a market for the area’s agriculture products. A partnership was formed by area farmers in 1903, who purchased the mill from Hubinger. The partnership remained until 1929 when the corporation was formed and it was formally renamed to Star of the West Milling Company. Sunrise Cooperative has worked diligently to sustain a strong relationship with Star of the West Milling Company.
About Star of the West
The Hubinger brothers immigrated to Frankenmuth, MI in 1846 from Germany, where their family had a successful milling business spanning two centuries.
The Hubinger brothers constructed a wooden dam for $1000 (which still exists today, though covered with concrete) and a water-wheel powered flour mill for $3000 (which does not remain today).
Company minutes were taken in German until the forming of the corporation in 1929, when
they switched to English.
Star of the West is the 10th largest flour milling company in the US.
The company name, “Star of the West,” was taken from a side-wheel merchant steamer, which was chartered to carry soldiers and supplies to Fort Sumpter and was hit in the Civil War battle.