Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) The 107-year-old mill, which provides flour to a host of clients, is at 850 East and Main Street in Lehi.
Utah’s Lehi Roller Mills files Chapter 11 bankruptcy
Debt » Fate will be in the hands of creditors as they weigh reorganization plan.
First Published Dec 11 2012 12:55 pm • Last Updated Aug 20 2013 05:00 pm

Financially troubled Lehi Roller Mills has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection — allowing the company to remain in business while it attempts to put together a reorganization plan to satisfy its creditors.

The 107-year-old mill filed for protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Dec. 6, leaving the company’s fate in the hands of its creditors. Ultimately, they will decide if they can support whatever plan the company comes up with, or if they’ll get more money by forcing the mill to close and sell off its assets.

At a glance

Lehi Roller Mills

Founded » 1905 at its present site, 833 E. Main St., Lehi

All in the family » In 1910, George Robinson purchased the mill; grandson Sherm Robinson is the current owner

Products » Wholesale flour, mixes for pancakes, brownies, cookies and muffins sold by grocery chains and others

Retail store hours » 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Roller Mills filed for protection "so we can put our financial house in order," company spokesman Rick Brown said Tuesday. "It means we can reorganize so we can be in a much better financial position. We’re looking forward to a very good 2013 year."

The company owes about $11 million to its largest 20 unsecured creditors, whose loans are not backed by any property interests, according to court documents. Of that amount, $3.5 million is owed to farms and businesses that have provided the mill’s inventory, such as wheat, bakery ingredients and other food and shipping products.

Attorney Rick Knuth, representing creditor Williamson Farms of American Fork, said he hopes Roller Mills ‘‘can be reorganized in such a way that it accomplishes everyone’s objective," including having his clients "paid what is owed to them."

Roller Mills had been set to go on the auction block in late November to satisfy a $1.45 million debt to the Williamson family, a private lender that years ago also had supplied wheat for the mill. The bankruptcy filing staved off those foreclosure proceedings.

Roller Mills has 15 days to produce a reorganization plan for creditors. Within the next 45 days, a meeting is expected to be scheduled, giving creditors an opportunity to question a company representative on the plan.

The cash-strapped Roller Mills has struggled financially for several years. Its most recent woes came to light in July, when several workers staged a street protest to call attention to the fact that they and other employees had missed several paychecks. That same month, the Labor Department filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for Utah seeking for a time to force the company to halt all shipments to its customers — including Kentucky Fried Chicken, which has been purchasing flour since the 1950s. The back wages were eventually paid.

Some customers such as Winco, Walmart, Costco and Winn-Dixie Stores have dropped the cash-strapped mill because of delayed or unfilled orders. But Associated Food Stores, a cooperative of 400 independent grocers that includes Harmons, has remained a buyer.

The flour mill, whose distinctive architecture made it an icon in art and the film "Footloose," is at 850 E. and Main St. in Lehi, where it also sells goods to the public.

story continues below
story continues below

"The Roller Mills is a landmark and an important piece of history for Lehi, Utah County and the whole state of Utah," said Lehi Mayor Bert Wilson. "I’m hopeful something can be worked out, because [they] got hit with things that were out of their control. I don’t want to see us losing the Mills."

Roller Mills owner Sherm Robinson has said that debts have been piling up since 2003, when federal officials launched an investigation into an Ogden feed lot and a former Mills’ customer. Even though no charges were filed against the Mills, the company was forced to notify banks of the investigation when asking for business loans.

Robinson said he was unable to secure financing until America West approved a loan, but in 2009 state regulators closed the Layton bank, effectively freezing the Mills’ assets, leaving the company with no collateral to obtain a loan elsewhere.

The company did not qualify for a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan because it is within the populous Wasatch Front.

Roller Mills had to make do with a purchase-order loan at an interest rate of 35 percent that wiped out profits and ate up operating cash. With so-called asset financing — nicknamed Pay Day lending for businesses — Robinson said he could obtain working capital only for orders already sold.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.