PictureMalt-O-Meal Brands by Eric Peterson on December 15, 2014  www.mombrands.com

Minneapolis, with a manufacturing facility in Tremonton, Utah
Founded: 1919
Privately owned
Employees: 1,700 total, with 210 in Utah

Plant Manager Mark Suchan is helping make 30 million breakfasts a day out of the Tremonton facility.

Founded in 1919 as the Campbell Cereal Company, MOM Brands gets its name from the initials of the flagship hot cereal that John Campbell came up with in Owatonna, Minnesota, 95 years ago: Malt-O-Meal Hot Cereal.

With $900 of poker winnings, Campbell mixed toasted malt and farina and established one of the oldest brands in the cereal aisle — and a company that continues to grow today.

As of 2014, the company makes over 100 different varieties of hot and cold cereal from five manufacturing facilities in Minnesota, Iowa, North Carolina, and Utah. It’s the third-largest manufacturer of cereal in the country with estimated sales of $750 million in recent years.

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The Tremonton location was the first outside of MOM’s home state of Minnesota when it opened in 2003 to serve the western U.S. Site selection pitted Utah against Texas, and Utah won. “We battled with the big boys for the number-one spot,” says Mark Suchan, the Tremonton plant manager.

The facility ships 100 million pounds of cereal a year — that’s 30 million breakfasts a day — so Utah’s strategic location for delivery to the West Coast and Intermountain West was paramount in the decision.

“It saves us about 11 cents a pound,” says Suchan. It adds up to more than $10 million a year.

Malt-O-Meal remains the company’s top seller, but the company has a portfolio that ranges from Fruity Dyno-Bites to Mom’s Best Naturals. “We’re really expanding in all directions,” says Suchan.

In Utah, the output is largely Malt-O-Meal products and shredded wheat. The Tremonton plant also has the capability to gun-puff and sugar-coat things like Golden Puffs and Marshmallow Mateys. The process expands a kernel by increasing the pressure, then it pops after re-entering atmospheric pressure and gets shellacked with sugar. MOM also makes sheeted and milled and flaked cereals in Utah.

The natural cereal trend has upped the level of testing and quality control on ingredients, Suchan adds, specifically whole grains. “We simply ensure the vitamins are there and capitalize on the natural grains.”

The Utah facility won the elite Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) award from OSHA in the summer.

Challenges: “I think the biggest challenge is being cost-competitive in the marketplace,” says Suchan. The savings generated by Utah’s geography is part of the solution, as is “above-average” compensation and increased automation to catalyze productivity gains.

Another challenge: coming up with new cereals. “We’re always trying to be creative.”

Opportunities: Natural cereal. Although the overall category is “flat or shrinking,” Suchan say he sees demand for natural cereals growing at a rapid clip. “There’s a growing market in naturals are the only part of the category that’s still growing and we’re growing the fastest of anybody in the category,” says Suchan.

There’s also a growing opportunity in value-priced cereals.

Needs: “Making sure we’re staying up in the latest technologies and continuing to engage our employees,” answers Suchan, noting that Utah’s 3.5 percent unemployment is currently second-lowest in the nation. “We have to compete for people.”