It’s not every day you hear about a fourth-generation family business known for its innovative technology, industry leadership and sustainable practices. But Black Gold Farms, a leading supplier of chip potatoes based in Grand Forks, ND, is one such company–and one that is a proud longtime customer of Bremer Bank.
What began in 1928 on 10 acres in North Dakota is now 25,000 acres of farmland across more than 10 states. It all started when founder A.E. (Hallie) Halverson, a Forest River, ND, banker, found himself the unlikely owner of a 10-acre seed potato plot. He farmed the land as a side business to his banking career, effectively launching the Red River Valley’s potato farming legacy.
Halverson also established a family legacy that has inspired decades of growth for Black Gold Farms. His son Jack led the company through the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s when the company portfolio expanded to include Black Angus cattle and Kennebec potatoes for the potato chip trade. It was during Jack’s tenure that the company name was changed from Forest River Potato Co. to Black Gold Farms–“Black” symbolizing the fertile, deep ebony soil of the Red River Valley, as well as the color of the hide of the registered Black Angus cattle raised on the farm; and “Gold” representing the golden skin color of the potatoes grown, as well as hope for the potential value of the newly named company.
In the 1980s, Jack’s son Gregg took over business management, expanding into Missouri, exiting the cattle business and becoming a major supplier for Frito Lay. Under Gregg’s leadership the company has experienced explosive growth across the U.S. with a focus on potatoes for chips and red and sweet potatoes for the fresh market. In 2014, the torch was passed once more to the fourth generation of Halversons when Gregg’s son Eric was named chief executive officer. Gregg remains chairman of the board with his son John as chief operating officer and daughter Leah overseeing new business development and marketing through her own business called Ten Acre Marketing–an homage to Black Gold Farm’s original 10 acres. Today, Black Gold also manages its potatoes’ transportation using its own truck company, Horizon Logistics, making it a fully vertically integrated farm. The trucks operate year-round transporting potatoes, but also helping neighboring farms transport produce when space is available.
Black Gold Farms understands the importance of growing food responsibly. The company’s commitment to fertile soil, fresh air and clean water is backed up by their adoption of new-generation technology, such as fuel-efficient power units and field- based sensor technology. The company annually calibrates irrigation pivot output to ensure optimum application timing and conserve water, and the corporate office is LEED certified with LEED construction techniques used whenever possible in its new buildings.
Black Gold Farms has a clear mission to be a premiere potato grower that focuses on excellence and being the best potato farmers they can be. They believe that getting the right potato on the right truck at the right time is what makes them and their customers successful, and when they accomplish that, sustainability, community involvement and employee satisfaction follows.
Beyond innovative approaches to environmental sustainability and marketing, Black Gold Farms also demonstrates a steadfast commitment to long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with employees, land partners, vendors and customers–just like Bremer.
“Like Black Gold Farms, Bremer Bank builds authentic, enduring relationships. And that is why Bremer is much more than just the bank on the corner,” said Eric Halverson, CEO, Black Gold Farms. “Through the Bremer team’s genuine interest in learning our business, they’ve become a trusted resource and strategic partner.”