What legacy will Ardent Mills CEO Dan Dye leave behind?

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Dan Dye has announced his retirement. Pic: Ardent Mills
Dan Dye has announced his retirement. Pic: Ardent Mills

Related tags Ardent mills

Under Dye’s stewardship, the US’ biggest flour miller has enjoyed significant growth, making numerous acquisitions, expanding its capacity and building out its Emerging Nutrition alternative grains business and regenerative agriculture program.

A decade in the post has seen Daniel P. Dye enforce the company’s foundation as a people-first, values-based business. Appointed as CEO in May 2014, he has now announced his retirement, setting in motion the search for a successor.

He will remain in the post until the next CEO is appointed.

“Ten years ago, we set out to build a people-first, values-based business and created Ardent Mills,” said Dye.

“It’s been a privilege to work with a great team to establish our mission, shape our vision and see the impact we’ve made in nourishing communities across North America.

“I am a firm believer that Ardent Mills’ continued, shared success is the result of our team members who live by our values of trust, serving, simplicity and safety, and who have a commitment to serving our customers with excellence. These pillars of Ardent Mills’ culture will continue to drive the business forward and fulfil the company’s commitment to nourish what’s next.” 

Decade of growth

Quinoa seeds and flour bhofack2
Quinoa seeds and flour. Pic: GettyImages/bhofack2

In addition to establishing a values-driven culture, Dye has spearheaded strategic initiatives that positioned Ardent Mills for record growth and resiliency.

In 2019, the Denver, Colorado-headquartered company acquired the quinoa sourcing, cleaning and packaging operations of Andean Naturals, and updated its Denver flour mill with the capacity to clean and pack intact grains, pearl barley and dehull heirloom grains.

In 2020, it expanded its organic capabilities with the bolt-on of a grain elevator in Kalmath Falls, Oregon, followed a year later by the acquisition of chickpea specialist Hinrichs Trading Co (HTC)​ and North Dakota gluten-free specialist Firebird Artisan Mills.

Most recently, Ardent opened the Emerging Nutrition alternative grains center of expertise in Pullman, Washington, bringing its network of Innovation Centers to four. It also completed construction of a 150,000 square-foot mill in Tampa, Florida – at a cost of over $100m​ – which can produce up to 1.75 million pounds of flour per day and store up to 4.1 million bushels of wheat

Dye singled out the investment as a prime example of the company’s willingness to “make transformational moves”.

This was also evident in the company’s quick shift into pandemic mode at the beginning of 2020, to ensure its workforce had the support they needed to safely deliver on its mission to enhance the quality of life and standard of health. 

Ardent is heavily focused on its environmental impact and launched its regenerative agriculture program in 2021 with the enrolment of 37,480 acres across Idaho and Kansas. This has flourished to reach 348,281 acres in fiscal 2023, with aspirations to target 2.5 million acres by the end of the decade.

Under Dye’s leadership, Ardent Mills has posted strong financial results, with record profits in fiscal 2023.

Results for the final quarter of the year were included in an 8-K filing July 13 by Conagra Brands, which holds a 44% stake in the milling company. For the year ended May 28, 2023, equity method investment earnings at Conagra were $212m, up 46% from 2022.

The remaining ownership is split between Cargill (44%) and CHS (12%).

Prior to leading Ardent Mills, Dye spent three decades at Cargill, serving as president of Horizon Milling and Cargill AgHorizons, US. He has been an active member of industry and serves on various boards, including the North American Millers’ Association, American Bakers Association and Partners in Food Solutions. 

“To our team members, customers, suppliers and industry partners, thank you for your unwavering support and dedication – you have each played an integral role in making Ardent Mills what it is today,” he added.

“I feel incredibly blessed, and my heart is filled with gratitude for the journey we’ve had together, and I am eager to see the company's continued success in this next chapter.”

Looking for new leadership

Recruitment Getty BrianAJackson
Pic: GettyImages/BrianAJackson

The importance of a seamless transition and sustaining Ardent Mills’ culture going forward was also emphasized by chairman Gonzalo Petschen.

“Ardent Mills is built on a values-based culture, much so thanks to Dan’s leadership and company vision,” said Petschen, who is also president and group leader, Food Solutions Americas, Cargill.

“It is imperative that our next CEO not only embodies Ardent Mills’ values but also carries forward Dan’s legacy of the people-first culture we have today. We are conducting a thorough and deliberate review of candidates to ensure our new leader possesses the vision and integrity necessary to drive Ardent Mills’ mission forward – with people and values at the core of all that we do.”

Ardent Mills specializes in flour, quinoa, pulses and organic and gluten-free products to meet the complex needs of customers today while focusing on the growing needs of tomorrow's consumer. Deeply rooted in communities throughout North America, the company manages more than 40 operations in Canada, the US and Puerto Rico, employs 100+ certified millers and supports thousands of local jobs that contribute billions of dollars to local economies.

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