By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
Few know what happens at Anderson Custom Processing in west Little Falls — but Tuesday, many people wondered as a 12-ton, 40-foot tall, 16-foot in diameter, steel dryer was slowly lifted by crane and put into place.
Anderson Custom Processing has been in business for 40 years. It was started by Glen Anderson, who processed whey, a waste byproduct of cheese and high in protein, into a product that could be used as a baking ingredient.
He purchased the building that once housed the West Side Cooperative Creamery and Sanitary Milk and Ice Cream Company.
As the business grew, Anderson started drying more and more specialty starches. All the starches were spray- dried in giant dryers using high-pressure and heat. As the business grew, the Little Falls plant was being used to capacity and another plant in Beldenville, Wis. was purchased, as well as two dryers.
Back then, said Bill Taszarek, Anderson plant manager who has been with the company for 37 years, starches had to be cooked to get the desired viscosity (thickness, ex: gravy). Companies making instant food products were able to use the product Anderson produced to help with that viscosity without all the cooking.
A company in Indianapolis approached Anderson about making an all-natural corn-based starch. This company makes products that are sold across the U.S. and beyond, including Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia.
The powdered product produced at Anderson Custom Processing is used in many such items as soda, as a fat replacer in ice cream and in microwaveable meals that require a freeze, thaw and cook process.
As the company began to grow, a 20,000 square foot warehouse was added on. Taszarek said the company needs every square foot.
The new dryer will replace one Anderson purchased used, made in 1961. That old dryer processed 7 million of the 16 million pounds Anderson processed in 2013.
Taszarek said the new dryer is expected to be put into operation in October. It will be highly energy efficient and environmentally-friendly.
Contegrity Group Inc. (CGI) in Little Falls was the project manager. Taszarek said the company worked to use as many local and Minnesota businesses as possible to complete the project — and did, except for those services not available in Minnesota.
Larry Filippi of CGI said they worked collaboratively with Anderson’s to do just that. The stainless steel wasn’t procured locally and the design of the dryer system, complete with a 150-horsepower motor for exhaust and intake fans, was done by Bryce Gabransky from Wisconsin.
Businesses hired to complete the project included Hauer Brothers, Central Minnesota Electric, DMS Machine and Architect Kevin Anderson, all of Little Falls; Ben’s Structural Fabrications, Waite Park; Hy-Tech Structures, Brainerd; Roy L. Nordenstrom and Sons of Scandia, who put fiberglass coating on the walls for easy clean-up; Dahmes Stainless, New London; Carl E. Johnson Mechanical, Milaca and Paulson and Clark, structural engineers for the footing design and steel framework where the dryer is housed, from White Bear Lake.
Filippi said the company worked on a very intense schedule.
“Being a production industry such as they are, you want to reduce downtime as much as possible. It was a pretty definite defined schedule and right on track up to this point,” he said. “Our steel for example, ordered several months ahead of time, showed up on the exact day we had in schedule. It’s a team effort. Everyone’s aware of what’s needed to get this thing completed.”
Taszarek said many of the company’s 35 employees have been with Anderson for 20, 30, 35 and more years. When the old dryer was taken out over Memorial Day, production slowed. Employees were able to take their vacations over the summer months. Everyone will be back to work at full capacity when the dryer is operational.
“All of the crews have been fantastic,” said Taszarek. “We have good experiences.”
Today the company is owned and operated by Glen Anderson’s son, Brian.