Hometown Tours: Star of the West
As summer came to a close, I made one last stop in Frankenmuth for the final part of the special three-part series in my own hometown. In part one, I visited the Bavarian Inn to prepare chicken dinners, and during part two I received a tour of the world-famous Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland. Part three took me through one of Frankenmuth’s oldest industries: milling.
Star of the West has had its hold in Frankenmuth since the Hubinger brothers arrived from Germany in 1846. Before traveling to Frankenmuth, the Hubinger family had two hundred years’ experience in milling back home.
Frankenmuth’s beginning was largely influenced by milling in the mid-1800s, and with the Cass River flowing right through downtown, it was an ideal location. It’s great that 150 years later, the industry still has a foothold in downtown Frankenmuth — and while certain techniques have changed, there is much that has remained the same.
As the tour started, the semi-trucks were already lining up with the day’s delivery of freshly harvested wheat. Since the wheat comes straight from the field, it comes in contact with various insects and other naturally occurring objects, which is why the wheat is immediately sampled and put through various tests after it is delivered to determine the cleanliness and overall quality.
Next, the tour went inside to mill, where a brief run of clean wheat was in progress. This particular batch was being produced specifically for delivery to Battle Creek to be used in cereal and other breakfast products. The wheat is processed through various sets of rollers, where it is crushed until it reaches a powdery consistency, otherwise known as flour.
The work they do with Michigan’s cereal industry creates a stream of business from the wheat field to your bowl of cereal. The wheat is grown in Michigan by Michigan farmers, it then comes to Star of the West to be processed and produced, then off to Battle Creek to be made into cereal.
Just because the wheat has been ground into flour does not mean the job is done. In fact, while all you may see from the street are massive silos, wheat being processed and flour being loaded onto trucks, there is just as much work being done behind the scenes in the labs.
First, the moisture of the wheat must be tested. Testing the moisture is an essential first step in determining wheat quality because this data is used for other tests. This is also important when considering the ability of the grain to be stored before milling. Wheat with a high moisture content attracts mold, bacteria, and insects, none of which are good for producing a quality product. As seen in the tour video, the moisture content of the wheat at Star of the West was between 12.9 and 14.1 percent, which is well within the standard acceptable limit.
I then performed what is referred to as a vomit-toxin test (yes, you read that right), which checks for any impurities or toxins in the flour once it has been processed.
The science behind the process was a bit of a surprise. I was aware we were dealing with a food-grade product and that it was subject to certain quality standards; I was just taken aback by the amount of incredibly sophisticated technology they use. It was fun to dress up in the stereotypical white lab coat and pour solutions through beakers as we ran through various tests. It was quite interesting.
Once the flour is tested and sifted it is then transported through tubes that pass through a powerful electro-magnet, which is a final safety precaution to filter out any microscopic metal particles from any of the processing machines. From there, it is fully prepared and ready to go on the truck.
Finally, the load was ready for its journey to Battle Creek. As the semi pulled up, we went through the necessary steps to prepare the truck for loading. The flour is blown into the back of the enclosed trailer through a large tube, so a vent must be opened to allow air to pass through to prevent air lock. In order to not lose any of the flour in this process, large filters are placed over the vent so air and only air can pass through, allowing the flour to continuously be blown in until the trailer is full.
I was astounded how much they actually produce exclusively for the state’s cereal industry. They send six trucks a day, each filled with roughly 47,000 pounds of flour, down to Battle Creek.
It is humbling to see how this company has grown since its beginnings in the early settlement of Frankenmuth. What began as a joint venture between two brothers is now a bustling multi-state orginization that owns five flour mills which produce 14 different types of flour, 12 grain elevators, four dry bean processing plants and two fertilizer operations.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the hosts for allowing me to tour the facility, load the trucks and even perform some tests. Each member of the staff has a great knowledge of the mill’s operations from start to finish because they work so closely and each of their jobs depends on one another. I’m incredibly appreciative of the whole experience and am proud to have this business not only in my district, but in my hometown as well.
If you have any tips for a hometown job for me to add to my list, please contact my office at (517) 373-1760, toll-free at (855) 347-8032 or by email at SenKHorn@senate.michigan.gov
It's my goal to do a Hometown Job in every community in the 32nd District. Legislator of the Year
Recently, I was incredibly honored to receive the Legislator of the Year awards from the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM) and the Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA).POAM
I was chosen as Legislator of the Year for working with the association to remedy collective bargaining issues that have been presented by Public Act 54 of 2011. Also noted were my efforts to add county corrections officers to those covered by Michigan’s binding arbitration law, Public Act 312 of 1969.
It’s an honor to be recognized for helping support our state’s law enforcement officers and ensuring they are treated with the respect they deserve. I will continue to work with POAM to remedy collective bargaining issues and to add county corrections officers to those covered by Michigan’s binding arbitration law. It’s imperative that we make certain both our officers and the public are protected.MMA
Manufacturing is what put our state on the map. Creating jobs has always been a top legislative priority of mine and as we examine the way Michigan’s economy has continued to recover, it is important that we recognize the incredible role the manufacturing industry played in that comeback. I’ve been happy to work with MMA on reforming regulatory issues within the industry and legislation to fight increased health care costs for employers.
It is a true honor that these hardworking folks have noticed what we’ve done in Lansing and I accept these awards with sincere gratitude. Left Photo Caption:
President Jim Tignanelli and Legislative Director Ken Grabowski presented me with the award at POAM’s August board meeting.Right Photo Caption:
MMA President and CEO Chuck Hadden presented me with their award in September during the MMA’s 2016 Legislative Reception in Lansing. Autonomous vehicle legislation
As every school child knows, Michigan put the world on wheels! I recently sponsored one of the bills in a package of legislation to ensure our state remains the world leader in the auto industry.
Data has shown that human error accounts for more than 90 percent of traffic accidents. Autonomous vehicle technology has the capability of reducing such errors and to help make driving safer.
The technology for autonomous vehicles is developing at a rapid pace. Senate Bills 995-998 update current Michigan law to allow "real world" testing and operation of these vehicles and create a mobility research center at the old Willow Run factory site for advanced research and development.
Many states and countries are competing for a leading role in the development of this technology. The legislation would help keep Michigan at the forefront of automotive innovation and manufacturing so the future of transportation remains right here in our state.
The bills have been sent to the Michigan House of Representatives for consideration. New service helps locate lost life insurance money
A new free service will help beneficiaries find a deceased family member's life insurance policy or annuity contract that was purchased in Michigan.
Each month, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) will forward consumer requests to Michigan licensed life insurance and annuity companies to locate lost policies. The companies will search their records for any policies in the name of the deceased. Beneficiaries or legal representatives will be contacted directly by companies only if they have a life insurance policy or annuity contract naming the deceased.
Find more information about the Life Insurance Annuity Search Service, including a request form, at www.michigan.gov/difs
. Pure Michigan Fall Travel Guide now available
Whether you plan to enjoy this special season from the comfort of your car while traveling one of the state’s scenic byways or by getting out on foot and trekking into the north woods, autumn is spectacular in Michigan!
The 2016 Pure Michigan Fall Travel Guide
features articles on fall color drives, hiking adventures and cultural attractions as well as stories on craft breweries and wine country. The publication also includes a directory of state parks and campgrounds and a calendar of events. Access the digital version and sign up for weekly fall color updates at www.michigan.org
. Or contact my office to receive a print copy.