Smude’s Sunflower Oil beats odds, expands to natural microwave popcorn
Entrepreneur Tom Smude will discuss the growth of his business, Smude’s Sunflower Oil, at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at Stearns History Museum’s Breakfast Club.
Smude and his wife, Jenni, launched their Pierz-based manufacturing business in 2009 after almost losing their 160-acre farm during the 2007-08 drought. In a cost-effective move, the couple turned to sunflowers. The alternative crop uses less fertilizer and water than corn and soybeans.
They planted 60 acres in 2010 with plans to sell the oil to processors and sell the byproducts as animal feed. As of last summer, Smude Sunflower Oil employed 13 people who processed sunflower seeds from growers in Minnesota and North Dakota, covering 5,000 acres.
Currently, the Smudes are completing an expansion of their facilities that will increase the volume of their oil production from 800,000 pounds to 6 million pounds a year. The extension was necessary as the couple continues to grow their brand of natural microwave popcorn.
The Breakfast Club program is free for Stearns History Museum members and is $7 for nonmembers. Refreshments are served. The Museum is located at 235 South 33rd Avenue in St. Cloud. Please join us for this exciting story of ingenuity, perseverance, and growth.