Making a mark: Work underway on Dyersville manufacturer’s $26.5 million facility

DYERSVILLE, Iowa — One of the largest projects ever in the Dyersville area is underway.

Ancient Brands Milling is relocating to Dyersville’s 20 West Industrial Park and constructing a 92,000-square-foot, $26.5 million facility. A groundbreaking celebration for the project was held Tuesday at the site, though a partial skeleton of the new building is up already.

“Whenever I drive by this site, I marvel at the outstanding progress being made,” Mayor Jeff Jacque said. “… When you live in Iowa, especially Dyersville, this is who we are and why we all work together — to turn dreams into a reality.”

Ancient Brands Milling manufactures organic and non-GMO puffed grains that are gluten-free and allergen-free, in addition to co-manufacturing products such as cereal, granola, energy bars and plant-based alternatives for products.

At the groundbreaking, Ancient Brands Milling Vice President of Supply Chain Tim Hemminger recalled coming up with the idea for a puffed grain manufacturer eight years ago in Denver.

“Puffed grain was something no one really knew about,” he said. “It wasn’t really in the United States. That sparked the idea that this was something we needed to figure out, and I couldn’t think of someone better than my brother (Patrick Hemminger, president of Ancient Brands Milling).”

Patrick Hemminger said the company started as Ancient Brands Grains in 2015. He recalled working in Chicago, asking his children to be quiet while he was on the phone with suppliers.

In 2020, the Hemmingers met Wolfgang Buehler, who became their senior business partner and has past experience in the food manufacturing business. Buehler, who is originally from Germany, currently lives near Pasadena, Calif.

The company bought assets from The Andersons Inc. in 2020 and moved into the former Andersons location in Dyersville’s Northwest Industrial Park.

“As our vision continues to manifest itself in Dyersville, we plan to continue having a strong contribution in the community,” Patrick Hemminger said. “We came to the Field of Dreams, and we’re about to go the distance.”

The new facility will increase Ancient Brands Milling’s capacity from 2.5 million pounds of puffed product to 30 million pounds.

Buehler added that two “state-of-the-art” puffing systems will be part of the new facility, which will be unique to North America. He noted that most puffed grains currently are made in Europe.

“Weather permitting, we hope to see you in the summer for the grand opening and be fully operational by the third quarter (of 2023),” he said.

Hemminger said the company plans to add at least 17 new jobs when the new facility opens. Currently, 17 employees work at Ancient Brands Milling in Dyersville.

Tim Hemminger added that the company has had an impact globally, helping build schools in India where the company sources some of its products.

“We’re excited to share our impact in Dyersville,” he said. “We very much look forward to spreading our impact and platform to the community.”

The project previously received incentives from both state and local entities.

Iowa Economic Development Authority awarded Ancient Brands Milling $769,093 in tax credits and refunds in May. A requirement of the award was the creation of the 17 new jobs at a qualifying wage of $22.63 per hour.

Last month, Dyersville City Council members approved an agreement with the company for $2 million in tax-increment rebates over a 10-year period beginning in 2025.

Steve Salter, president of the Dyersville Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors, said Tuesday marked an important day for the community and noted that Ancient Brands Milling will be one of the last companies located in the second phase of 20 West Industrial Park, which began a decade ago.

“We’re working on phase three right now,” he said, gesturing to where crews were working on aligning a road to extend it to the west. “Phase two has one lot left, right to the west of (Ancient Brands Milling).”