ATCHISON, KANSAS, U.S. —This year, MGP Ingredients, Inc. will mark the 75th anniversary of the company’s founding in 1941 by the late Cloud L. Cray, Sr. Observances tied to the theme “75 Years Strong” will occur throughout the year, with companywide celebrations being planned for this spring.
“The history of MGP is a chronicle of strength, resilience, change and progress,” said MGP President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gus Griffin. “Our story covers many chapters, the newest of which is a return to our core business of producing premium distilled spirits and specialty wheat-based ingredients. We are well positioned to deliver against macro consumer trends in the marketplace, and our strong heritage provides a solid foundation and common theme from which to continue to build our legacy over the long term.”
MGP’s founding was set in motion by Cray’s arrival in Atchison, Kansas, U.S. in September 1941. A Detroit, Michigan, U.S., investment banker at the time, he visited the town to inspect an idled alcohol plant with the intention of having its equipment dismantled and then reassembled in Michigan. However, Cray’s fondness for the Kansas community, along with persuasive efforts by town leaders, inspired him to rethink this plan. The entrance of the U.S. into World War II in December 1941 and the government’s increased need for industrial alcohol convinced him to purchase the plant and immediately reopen it at its present site as Midwest Solvents Company, Inc.
Immediately following the war, the company shifted much of its production to beverage alcohol, focusing principally on vodka and gin. This set the stage for further product diversification over time, as the company added bourbon and whiskey to its beverage alcohol portfolio, and installed equipment for the production of wheat proteins and starches, mainly for use in a wide range of food applications. Today the company is recognized as supplier of distilled spirits and the top U.S. producer of specialty wheat proteins and starches, the company said. One of the most recent examples of the company’s growing acclaim occurred in December 2015 when it was named Distiller of the Year by the Whisky Advocate.
“MGP’s evolution is like a journey along a path of many exciting milestones,” said Karen Seaberg, chairperson of the company’s board of directors. “Tremendous progress has been made throughout the company’s history thanks to our management and employees, who have consistently pulled together to move the business forward through a combination of teamwork, fortitude, ingenuity and a vision to succeed long-term. Additionally, our company culture is one that is embedded with a strong sense of community pride and support, which is demonstrated not only by monetary means, but through numerous community volunteer services.”
A visionary outlook of the company’s business potential, as well as its role as a leading community benefactor, was the seed from which MGP grew well beyond the bounds of its start-up as an industrial alcohol producer. This vision was a trademark of Cloud Cray, Sr. It is one that has been shared by his son and chairman emeritus Cloud L. “Bud” Cray, who served for several years as board chairman and president and CEO, Bud’s son-in-law, Ladd Seaberg, also a former chairman, president and CEO, and now Gus Griffin.
“Our company has come a long way since its earliest days,” Bud Cray said. “While maintaining our core business principles, we have succeeded in growing through expansions, new product innovations and constantly delivering the highest quality to our customers. We have never forgotten our roots, but rather have used those to successfully spring forth new ideas and capabilities to meet targeted needs and trends in the marketplace.”