Member Profile: North Central Commodities
Posted on May 5, 2022
North Central Commodities (NCC) was created to export since its inception, says Dylan Kalrey, General Manager since 2010. Based in Johnstown, ND, the Lindholm/Karley family has been operating both their own farm, Johnstown Bean Company, and North Central Commodities in the heart of ND since the 1970s.
Exporting was a necessity to gain better margins and expand, explains Karley, and NCC was originally the international marketing arm for Johnstown Bean Co. The company has grown to now take in bean varieties from all over ND and export them worldwide. Primarily, the group works with edible beans such as black and pinto beans directly sourced from ND farmers. NCC then cleans, processes, packages, and prepares the beans for wholesalers, restaurants, and other customers for anything larger than 50lb bags. They are flexible with sourcing other products, with experience in lentils, other types of pulses, and even oats from time to time.As a true ND company, NCC always tries to source from ND whenever possible.
The company has over 40 years of exporting experience, and with more than 15 years himself, Karley has a lot of stories to draw upon. His best advice for the exporter is that “Google can only get you so far!” He talks about how each country and each new market has its own particular set of nuances. “Many of the services [The NDTO] offers have really helped us throughout the years, and the STEP funding, which is new to us, was a really great opportunity,” says Karley. “There are so many services and tricks out there,” he explains, “ you just have to know where to look.” He explains that exporting is a little more work on the exporter, but NCC finds the margins and overall business is well worth the effort. Additionally, NCC has found that working internationally with companies that have never imported before provides a mutually beneficial opportunity. “We get to connect with new importers on a deeper level, helping them through the process with our own expertise. So we get to build loyalty and good communication throughout,” Karley says.
When it comes to exporting, NCC has found great success in Mexico with an outfit in Monterrey, which Karley finds himself visiting nearly every month. In fact, Australia and Antarctica are the only two continents NCC hasn’t sold beans to, but Australia is in their sights for the future.
“At the end of 2019, Mexico experienced a bean crop failure, and then with the pandemic hitting in early 2020, the whole pulse industry was a bit frantic. We worked as hard and as long as we could to get the job done, ” he says. The pandemic brought new hurdles for NCC as they had to ramp up production as many food markets changed and demand for their products increased quickly. And now, they found better ways of looking ahead and planning further out. Shipping has always been a challenge in the middle of ND, but much of their business can go overland via rail to their site in Mexico, which has been less disruptive than many overseas shipping.
Looking ahead, NCC is exploring new opportunities to become more sustainable in its practices. Karley explains that “beans as a whole, are a very sustainable crop and food source, but we are investigating packaging updates, cleaners, processing, and transportation methods. These are all things our end users are looking for, and we want to be able to deliver.”
NCC is certainly a company with a solid foundation in exporting ND products, and this long-lived passion for going global does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. With the endless challenges that go hand in hand with international business, Karley and NCC will continue to remain at the top of their game, exporting quality ND beans for many years.