First episode features interview with former company President Ernest Flegenheimer

BAY CITY – In an effort to enhance communications with its grower-owners and employees and to expand its storytelling platform with the public, Michigan Sugar Company this week launched its first podcast.

Titled “Grounded,” the podcast is hosted by Jim Ruhlman, Michigan Sugar Company’s Executive Vice President and is intended to explore the history and traditions of the company, as well as the ideas that will drive Michigan Sugar into the future.

“As a cooperative, we are always looking for new and better ways to communicate with our shareholders,” said Elizabeth Taylor, Ag Relations & Communications Manager at Michigan Sugar Company. “We are so excited to announce the start of this monthly podcast, which will feature interviews with a variety of guests from our cooperative and the sugarbeet industry.”

The first episode features an interview with Ernest Flegenheimer, who served as President of Michigan Sugar Company from 1963 to 1993 and is the father of current President and CEO Mark Flegenheimer. Tune in to hear how Ernest Flegenheimer got into the sugar business, how his family ended up in Michigan and how he helped build Michigan Sugar Company during his time leading the company.

The 37-minute episode is available at

“Michigan Sugar Company has a rich history and the sugarbeet industry overall has so many dynamics to talk about,” said Ruhlman. “Our hope with “Grounded” is to continue strengthening relationships in our industry, as well as give our shareholders and employees another avenue for information.”

Taylor said “Grounded” can be found by search for the podcast on Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud, and listeners can subscribe so they’ll be alerted when a new episode is available. Listeners also are invited to provide input on future episode topics by sending email to

“We have a lot of great ideas for episodes moving forward, including our second episode that will feature an interview with Mark Flegenheimer,” said Taylor. “That said, we would love to hear ideas from listeners as we begin this new communications endeavor.”

About Michigan Sugar Company

Michigan Sugar Company was founded in 1906 when six smaller sugar companies merged their operations. In 2002, Michigan Sugar Company became a grower-owned cooperative and in 2004, merged with Monitor Sugar Company to form the company that exists today.

Michigan Sugar Company is headquartered in Bay City and has sugarbeet processing facilities in Bay City, Caro, Croswell and Sebewaing. Its nearly 900 grower-owners plant and harvest up to 160,000 acres of sugarbeets each year in 20 Michigan counties, as well as Ontario, Canada. Those beets are sliced at the factories and turned into about 1.3 billion pounds of sugar annually. The sugar is sold to industrial, commercial and retail customers under the Pioneer and Big Chief brands.

Michigan Sugar Company has 930 year-round employees and an additional 1,100 seasonal workers. It is the No. 1 employer in Huron County, the No. 2 employer in Bay and Sanilac counties and the No. 3 employer in Tuscola County. The company’s annual payroll is more than $65 million and its annual local economic impact is about $500 million.

Michigan Sugar Company is the third largest of nine sugarbeet processing companies in the United States and Michigan is one of 11 states where sugarbeets are grown in the country.