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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

After Malt-o-Meal sale, fear mixes with optimism

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According to legend, John Campbell founded Malt-O-Meal’s Northfield plant with $900 he won in a poker match. But after Post Foods announced this week that it had agreed to purchase the 95 year-old company, locals are hoping that MOM Brands hasn’t finally decided to cash in its chips.

Under the terms of the $1.15 billion cash sale, Post, the nation’s third-largest cereal maker, would assume complete control of MOM, the nation’s fourth-largest.

MOM, which unlike Post remains privately held, has maintained a manufacturing base in Northfield since an Owatonna miller set up shop here in 1920. For decades, the family-owned business was known locally for the hot “Malt-O-Meal” cereal that gave the firm its name.

The company began to diversify its offerings about thirty years ago, however, producing knock-off brands of name-brand cereals like Fruit Loops. The strategy worked: sales soared, more than doubling between 2001 and 2011.

Employees at the 5th Avenue plant are just hoping that they won’t be victims of the company’s success. The plant employs 651 workers, making it the town’s third largest employer. It’s also one of the last remaining manufacturing employers in the area. Employees describe a “Minnesota nice” workplace with generous Christmas bonuses and rewards for longevity.

“The news is always a shock,” Northfield mayor Dana Graham said. “We’re just going to hope for the best..”

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