Daniel P. Dye, who has served as chief executive officer of Ardent Mills LLC since the business was established in May 2014, has announced he will retire later this year. Ardent Mills has launched an internal and external search for a successor, and Dye will remain in his post until the next CEO is named and assumes the role.

“Ten years ago, we set out to build a people-first, values-based business and created Ardent Mills. It’s been a privilege to work with a great team to establish our mission, shape our vision, and see the impact we’ve made in nourishing communities across North America,” Dye said. “I am a firm believer that Ardent Mills’ continued, shared success is the result of our team members who live by our values of trust, serving, simplicity and safety, and who have a commitment to serving our customers with excellence. These pillars of Ardent Mills’ culture will continue to drive the business forward and fulfill the company’s commitment to nourish what’s next.”

The importance of sustaining Ardent Mills’ culture going forward also was emphasized by Gonzalo Petschen, chairman of Ardent Mills’ board.

"Ardent Mills is built on a values-based culture, much so thanks to Dan’s leadership and company vision," said Petschen, who is president and group leader of the Food Solutions Americas group at Cargill.  “It is imperative that our next CEO not only embodies Ardent Mills’ values but also carries forward Dan’s legacy of the people-first culture we have today. We are conducting a thorough and deliberate review of candidates to ensure our new leader possesses the vision and integrity necessary to drive Ardent Mills’ mission forward - with people and values at the core of all that we do.”

Under Dye’s stewardship, Ardent Mills, the nation’s largest milling company, enjoyed significant growth, shoring up its flour milling core, tapping pockets of growth, while building out its Emerging Nutrition alternative grains business.

The Emerging Nutrition business expanded most recently with the opening of an innovation center in Pullman, Wash. In 2021, the company acquired Hinrichs Trading Co. (HTC), a chickpea sourcing, cleaning and packaging business based in Pullman. Later that year, Ardent Mills acquired Firebird Artisan Mills, a North Dakota company specializing in gluten-free milling. Ardent Mills acquired the quinoa sourcing, cleaning and packaging operations of Andean Naturals, Yuba City, Calif., in 2020 and expanded its organic capabilities with the acquisition of a grain elevator in Klamath Falls, Ore., in 2019. Also that year, the company updated its Denver flour mill with the capacity to clean and pack intact grains, pearl barley and dehull heirloom grains.

Several years after initiating a regenerative agriculture program as part of Field to Market, Ardent Mills in 2021 launched a major expansion of the effort. From a modest base that year totaling 37,400 acres, enrollment reached 348,281 acres in fiscal year 2023 and the company aspires to a target of 2.5 million acres by the end of the decade.

Investments Ardent Mills has made in milling included the purchase in 2015 of a flour mill in Mississauga, Ont., and a major expansion in 2020 of the company’s family flour production capabilities. In 2022, Ardent Mills opened a new flour mill in metropolitan Tampa, Fla., to replace an older mill sold within the city of Tampa. Among standout features of the new mill, built at a cost of over $100 million, the facility is able to source wheat both by rail and by ocean vessel.

Dye particularly singled out the Tampa investment as an example of Ardent Mills “being willing to make transformational moves.” He called this willingness an important part of Ardent Mills’ first 10 years and important for the business and the milling industry going forward.

Also over the last five years, Ardent Mills shuttered a number of its older flour mills, including facilities in Georgia, Minnesota, Ohio, Nebraska and Pennsylvania. According to the 2024 Grain & Milling Annual published by Sosland Publishing Co., Ardent Mills operates 32 flour mills in the United States with collective daily capacity of 472,010 cwts and three mills in Canada with 38,500 cwts of capacity. The company’s grain storage capacity totals 79.1 million bus.

The company’s financial results have been particularly strong in recent years, as indicated in financial filings by Conagra, a publicly traded company. For the year ended May 28, 2023, equity method investment earnings at Conagra Brands were $212 million, up 46% from $145.3 million in fiscal 2022 and $84.4 million in fiscal 2021. The figures account for Conagra’s 44% stake in Ardent Mills. The remaining ownership is split 44% by Cargill and 12% by CHS.

Looking ahead to the next 10 years for Ardent Mills, Dye said the outlook is full of promise as it stands on the foundation of “putting our values, our culture, our people first and taking care of our customers.”

“There will be great opportunity ahead,” he said. “The best is yet to come.”

Dye was named to lead Ardent Mills when the company was established in 2014 with the combination of the milling assets of Conagra Brands, Inc.; Cargill and CHS. While Conagra was based in Omaha and the other two companies in metropolitan Minneapolis-St. Paul, the decision was made to headquarter Ardent Mills in Denver. At the time, Dye cited the “energy of this metropolitan area” as a “great match for Ardent Mills.” He said the city would offer great quality of life to the company’s employees and would allow for “excellent service to our customers.”

“I love that flour milling has been around so long. We celebrate that history and that heritage. We also commit to innovation, transformation and growth. We believe in the future, and we’re willing to take some risk and invest for the future.” There will inevitably be challenges, but how an organization responds to and manages the ups and the downs is really a true test of resilience -- and that starts with caring for your people and deeply rooted values.”

In the five years before Ardent Mills was established, Dye was president of Horizon Milling, which was, in turn, a joint venture dating back to 2002 combining the milling assets of Cargill and CHS. Before he was tapped to lead Horizon, Dye spent 28 years at Cargill in the grain business. His experience included 10 years as president of Cargill AgHorizons U.S., an initiative the company launched to elevate its relationship with growers by providing a unique suite of products, services and market expertise.

Dye serves on a number of boards including North American Millers’ Association, American Bakers’ Association, Partners in Food Solutions and the Craig Hospital Foundation.