01 Feb 2001
A Miller's TaleTopics:
The oldest flour company in the United States — and perhaps the only one whose sales are rising amid a decline in home baking — is King Arthur Flour, a firm that's been in operation since George Washington was President, as Smithsonian magazine reported in its November 2000 issue. King Arthur's chairman is Frank Sands (MBA '63), who, according to a long-established tradition in this family-run enterprise, did not inherit the company but bought it, at fair market value, from his father.
Milled from the heart of the wheat berry (and slightly more expensive than competitors' products), King Arthur flour is hailed by famous chefs such as Julia Child and Graham Kerr for its superior quality. Of the company's exacting standards, Sands noted, "A couple of years ago, we shipped back eleven freight cars of flour because it was one-tenth of 1 percent off our protein specs."
In addition to a thriving catalog business that sends King Arthur flour, recipes, and baking items to far-flung devotees, Sands and his wife, Brinna, have initiated baking programs in schools. They also operate a Baking Center (a bakery, store, and school) at company headquarters — appropriately known as "Camelot" — in Norwich, Vermont.
In 1996, realizing that none of their children wanted to continue the business, the Sandses began to turn over ownership to their 150 employees. "Seeing the men and women who work here strive to reach their full potential now that they are owners is tremendously gratifying," Sands said.
Class of MBA 1963, Section B