Essex County Industrial Development Agency

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A dream come true’: Champlain Valley Milling opens new facility

A dream come true’: Champlain Valley Milling opens new facility

Relocation of organic flour mill to Willsboro draws packed crowd to open house

by Pete DeMola

January 30, 2018

Champlain Valley Milling President Sam Sherman (center-right) shows state Assemblyman Dan Stec a new piece of machinery at Champlain Valley Milling as other elected officials look on, including, L to R: state Senator Betty Little, Rep. Elise Stefanik, Champlain Valley Milling’s Derinda Sherman and Willsboro Supervisor Shaun Gillilland. The flour producer held an open house on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018.

Photo by Pete DeMola

Attendees gaze up as Champlain Valley Milling President Sam Sherman gives a tour of the facility’s new Willsboro location

WILLSBORO | The public turned out in droves to get a glimpse of Champlain Valley Milling’s new operation in Willsboro last Saturday.

About 150 people attended the open house at the former Old Adirondack building in the Willsboro Commerce Park. 

Owners Sam and Derinda Sherman called the turnout “overwhelming.”

“Without the blessing of God, and Derinda’s support, guidance and love — and my children — nothing else matters in what we do,” Mr. Sherman said. 

Champlain Valley Milling formerly shut down operations at their Westport location last December.

The move has been long in the making after the organic flour processor outgrew the footprint of their former facility.

“We were stretched, landlocked and height-restricted for what we needed to do to meet our customer needs,” Mrs. Sherman said.

The new operation is located on a 10-acre plot with pre-approved zoning of 83 feet in height, a measure that allowed the family-run business to build the silo expansion necessary to expand their white flour operation.

Height is critical when processing whole flour, and the Westport location was restricted at 37 feet. A new addition at the Willsboro location is 50 feet tall by 75 feet long and contains 105 steps to the top.

Dignitaries look on as Sam Sherman thanks the overflow crowd for their support.

The family, including children Nate and Ayra, showcased the new facility to a raft of guests and visiting dignitaries, including state Assemblyman Dan Stec, state Senator Betty Little and Rep. Elise Stefanik.

Mr. Sherman estimates the new facility will process 6 million pounds of grain annually.

“That’s a lot of dough,” Stec quipped. 

Champlain Valley Milling worked with the Essex County Industrial Development Agency and Willsboro Supervisor Shaun Gillilland to secure the new space.

“He is such a great valuable asset,” Mrs. Sherman said of Gillilland. “I just can’t tell you how rewarding it was to work with him.”

The new location will allow Champlain Valley Milling to expand their storage space, as well as adhere to more stringent U.S. Food Safety Act requirements.

The homegrown company aims to expand their local product line of organic grains, which they source from both local growers and those across the state.

Wholesale clients include retail heavyweights like Whole Foods and Wegmans.

Triple Jade Farm is among the local farmers who will benefit from a source of organic flour in Willsboro, NY.

Local farmers also purchase the flour for smaller-scale operations, including the nearby Triple Green Jade Farm.

In fact, co-owner Dan Rivera said the allure of getting such high quality organic flour nearby was a catalyst for going into breadmaking to begin with.

“It’s like I have my own mill here in town,” he said. “It’s a bonus for us.”

During peak summer months, Triple Jade uses about 300 pounds of flour every week.

The market for organic products is booming, said the Shermans, and naysayers called the demand a passing fad when the couple purchased the former Champlain Seed Growers Co-Op in Westport in 1985.

“This is absolutely a dream come true for us,” said Mrs. Sherman, who thanked the public for their support and generosity. 

The location currently employs eight people.

Little, the state senator, said the Shermans represent the model American family and praised them for their forward-thinking.

“We’re all one, really in the end, working together in trying to get ahead, creating an area where people will move to and come to, and they won’t do it if they don’t have jobs,” Little said. “When people see investments like this — and companies existing here doing well  — it encourages them to look into us to see what they can do.”

Stefanik, whose parents own and operate a plywood business in Albany County, said she is familiar with the challenges facing small businesses, and praised the Shermans for persevering in a tough climate.

The packed turnout, the lawmaker said, was a testament to the respect and gratitude the community has for the family.

“This is huge news for the region,” said Stefanik, “and it’s huge news for our agricultural sector, which is growing in northern New York.”

Gillilland said he was heartened by sight of trucks moving in and out of the parcel, and hoped the business would act as magnet for more economic development, including at the industrial park contiguous to the new location.

“We never had a bite of someone wanting to be a tenant until Champlain Valley Milling moved in,” he said. “But there seems to be a great demand for people to buy lots and businesses.”


Meeting Notice

IDA Board Meeting;  Thursday, November 8, 2018 at 9:00 AM at IDA office, Elizabethtown, NY - Meeting Agenda