The Farmplate Blog

King Arthur Flour: A Sustainability-Minded Corporation Expands Its Footprint

Jeff Gangemi May 02, 2012 Real Food 0 comments

Founded in Boston in 1790, King Arthur Flour is America’s oldest flour company and has gradually become a pantry mainstay in many parts of the country. And while baking flour and progressive business practices may not seem like obvious bedfellows, King Arthur has been working hard to change that.

In 1984, then-owners Frank and Brinna Sands moved the company from Massachusetts to Norwich, Vermont, where King Arthur is headquartered today. With the physical move came other significant changes at the company. 

Among the changes, the company's prodigious growth is probably the most apparent. King Arthur has morphed from a small mail-order business with five employees in 1990 to a national company with nearly 250 employees today. At the same time, its cadre of farmers has also grown in both number and dedication. Click here to view a great series of videos of King Arthur’s wheat producers.

The other major changes concern a deepened commitment to sustainability, a move that was galvanized in 1996, when the Sands’ decided to sell the company to their employees and began an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

In 2007, King Arthur Flour became a founding B (Beneficial) Corporation, changing its bylaws to reflect its commitment to all stakeholders – including shareholders, business partners, the community, and the environment.  

Then, in 2012, the company took that commitment one step further, becoming a Vermont Benefit Corporation. That means the company must adopt a corporate purpose of creating a “material positive impact on society and the environment, and to require its directors to consider non-financial interests when making decisions,” according to a company-issued press release.

Now, King Arthur is expanding its physical footprint with a large-scale construction project to create a campus with an expanded bakery, retail store and learning center, while maintaining its commitment to sustainability. 

"Even in becoming a B Corporation and even a Vermont Benefit Corporation, it wasn't a significant change for employees, because we were already operating in this socially responsible way. It just codified that commitment,” says King Arthur spokesperson Allison Furbish. 

Over the next several months, King Arthur will complete its move into the new facility. Furbish says King Arthur employees see the company’s physical expansion as a way to engage the community in both baking-related activities, and the sustainability mindset they say is vital to growing food enterprises. 

Click here for more on the expansion plan and logistics. 

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