Quentin Burdick Center for Cooperatives

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Aldrich "Al" C. Bloomquist

Al Bloomquist is often referred to as "the father of the Red River Valley's farmer-owned cooperative sugar industry" and "the man who started it all." Born in Willmar, Minnesota, Bloomquist received his Bachelor's degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1943.

Al Bloomquist ACSC Dedication

He began his career in the newspaper business, but left it for the sugarbeet industry in 1955 when he become Regional Manager for Western Beet Sugar Producers, the public relations arm of the beet sugar industry. He became Executive Secretary of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association in 1961 when the sugar industry was thriving and growing in the Valley. By the late 1960s, the sugar industry was in decline. In the early 1970s, it was apparent American Crystal Sugar (ACS), then headquartered in Denver, was no longer interested in expanding in the Red River Valley. In 1972, Bloomquist, representing are growers, wrote to the President of American Crystal Sugar, offering to purchase the company. ACS agreed and in 1973, America's first beet sugar grower-owned cooperative was formed. (Pictured at left: Al Bloomquist (center) at the dedication of American Crystal's corporate headquarters in Moorhead, Minnesota in 1974)

Al Bloomquist RetirementBloomquist became the Vice President of Public Affairs and directed the company's local, regional, and national public affairs. He acted as the primary spokesperson for American Crystal Sugar and was nationally-known as an expert on the needs and goals of the U.S. sugar industry. Because of his reputation for integrity and being one of the most knowledgeable people in the country about the sugar industry, Bloomquist's counsel was often sought by congressmen, bureaucrats, and presidents. Bloomquist was the original publisher of the "Sugarbeet Grower" magazine, a nationally-recognized industry publication. In 1977, he received the highest honor of the sugar industry, the Dyer Memorial Award as "Sugar Man of the Year". At age 56, he was the youngest person ever to receive the award. He was elected President and CEO of ACS in 1990 and served until he retired in 1992. Mr. Bloomquist passed away in 2012. (Pictured at right: Al Bloomquist relaxes during retirement at the co-op he helped found. Photo courtesy of SmartBusiness, 1999)

 

Honoring a Cooperatives Leader

American Crystal Sugar has grown to be a cooperative that produces 16 percent of the country's sugar. The company is owned by approximately 2,900 shareholders and employs 2,000 men and women in the states of Minnesota and North Dakota. The company generates approximately $1 billion in sugar sales annually.

ACS has honored Al Bloomquist by sponsoring the Al Bloomquist Lecture Series. Each year, an individual committed to the cooperative movement has been asked to speak at the lecture series. Distinguished speakers have included John Johnson, former CEO of CHS, Inc., Randall Torgerson, Deputy Administrator for USDA/RBS Cooperative Services (1976-2003), Robert Bergland, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (1977-1980), and George Sinner, Governor of North Dakota (1986-1994).

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