Value-added concept helps
family business grow
PHOTOS COURTESY OF GORDON GREGORY
By Dave Carty
A FEW YEARS AGO, with representatives
from the Guinness Book of World Records
looking on, Wheat Montana Farms broke the
world record for processing wheat into bread.
“We took wheat standing in the field, harvested it, milled it and baked it into a baker’s
dozen [ 13] loaves,” company CEO Dean
Folkvord says. “It was a blast—and it was all
live on the Today show.” The time, clocked at
eight minutes and 24 seconds, easily established a new world record.
That kind of efficiency wouldn’t have
been possible without the company’s next-door proximity to its
primary supplier, its
“We have a unique
business model, being
able to actually grow
the wheat and then
haul it less than five
miles to a facility
where we can clean the
wheat, process it into
flour and bake it, all
under one roof,”
“We can sell the bread
the very next day. It’s the ultimate in effi-
ciency, sustainability and not wasting
But 29 years ago, the farm proper, from
which the company Wheat Montana Farms
grew, was barely making it.
Then, in 1982, Dean, with a newly minted
degree in agricultural business from Montana
State University, had an idea. What about no-
till farming on the family’s acreage? The
method, not widely practiced at the time, did
away with soil-disturbing tillage, increasing
the land’s ability to hold water and survive
weather erosion, and potentially saving
money in the bargain. His father, Dale, agreed
to give it a try, and things started clicking.
Before long, yields increased, and the farm
gained a reputation for growing wholesome,
enough money at the deli that it was bankrolling the whole operation,” Folkvord says.
“That experience introduced us to this
guy who had a little bakery down in Bozeman,
so we hired him to bake bread,” Folkvord says.
“Then our bagel business started taking off.”
Three years after the initial partnership, they
bought the baker out.
knew they were
going to have to
expand. In a
stroke of luck,
near a windswept
near Three Forks,
up for sale. The
Folkvords took a
deep breath and,
The idea was not a hit with the family.
The location was hardly pedestrian friendly—
it was hot and windy in the summer, and cold
and windy in the winter.
“We argued amongst the family about the
deli,” Folkvord recalls. “We finally cut the
planned office space in half—my dad didn’t
want anybody down there sitting on his butt
doing nothing—and opened the deli.”
Against all odds, the deli was a winner. “It
was one of those fluky deals where we made
On the rise
Today, Wheat Montana Farms has four
franchise delis and a thriving business in
high-quality, sustainably grown grains, milled
flours and baked goods, such as breads, rolls
and bagels (these items are available at
Montana Costco locations and people can
order online from their website).
Folkvord is the company CEO (father
Dale has since passed away), wife Hope does
the books and his daughters handle product
And despite the diversity of its operations,
Wheat Montana is a remarkably integrated,
smoothly run family business.
Folkvord says, “We’ve always tried to
grow the company every year, somehow,
some way.” C
Writer Dave Carty,
carty.com, is a Costco member.
One of Wheat Montana Farms’ deli locations.
Member: Wheat Montana Farms
Owner: Dean Folkvord
Number of employees: 100 plus
Member at: Bozeman, Montana
Products: Baked goods, flours, grains
Contact: 10778 Hwy. 287
Three Forks, Montana 59752
(406) 285-3614; 1-800-535-2798;
Comments on Costco: “The quality of
everything at Costco is second to none.
And it’s just fun to shop there.”