MGP Ingredients Inc., Atchison, KS, will celebrate its 75th anniversary this year. Observances tied to the theme “75 Years Strong” will occur throughout the year, with companywide celebrations being planned for this spring.
MGP was founded by Cloud L. Cray Sr., a Detroit investment banker who visited Atchison in 1941 to inspect an idled alcohol plant with the intention of having its equipment dismantled and 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 United States 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 Co. 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 a leading supplier of premium distilled spirits and a U.S. producer of specialty wheat proteins and starches.
“MGP’s evolution is like a journey along a path of many exciting milestones,” notes 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 startup 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, president and CEO; Bud’s son-in-law, Ladd Seaberg, also a former chairman, president and CEO; and now Gus Griffin, president and CEO.
“Our company has come a long way since its earliest days,” says Bud Cray. “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.”
While MGP’s business operations have been expanded and diversified through the years, the company’s efforts have remained clearly focused—to create value for its stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, partners, consumers and communities, by developing and producing premium products to meet consumer needs.