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J. Rettenmaier Company Gives Back to Schoolcraft

By Sue Moore

The J. Rettenmaier Company, on U.S. 131, just south of Schoolcraft has been giving back to the community. More than anything, the company has been very generous to the Eagle’s Nest (the Schoolcraft Administration Building) according to Sue Kuiper, executive director.

It started with a request to the employees, which now number in the 130s, for food donations to the Schoolcraft Friday Pack program, which provides food for needy children on the weekends.  The company has run an internal company food and financial drive for the at risk students in the Friday Pack program for the last several years.  The donations have come from all three plants in the U.S. and then the company matched what the employees raised.

Sue Kuiper is presented with a check from Thorston Willmann, general manager of the Schoolcraft branch of J. Rettenmaier.

“This company never forgets us,” Kuiper said. “Many of their employees live outside of the Schoolcraft community but still come together in support of our local at risk students. They exhibit their loyalty and care for Schoolcraft.  This company continues to stand tall in its commitment to this small town and in such a very big way.  Since the Friday Pack participant numbers are at an all-time high, this contribution allows us to serve every student in need.”

If you’re not familiar with J. Rettenmaier, the company supplies fiber powders that the Kellogg Company puts into its cereals to stabilize them. The powders have zero calories, neutral flavor and are non-allergenic.  The powders are used in pastas to make them healthier, with the bakery market the strongest buyer of these ingredients.

The pet food market is also coming on strong for the company because pets need the fiber, just as much as people, according to Ryan Boldt, one of the corporation’s food scientists.

The company originated in southern Germany and is wholly owned by the Rettenmaier family with J. Rettenmaier as president.  Their expansion in Schoolcraft began in 1997 and they now have plants in Portage and Iowa.

Thorsten Willmann, the general manager came here about six years ago from Germany and has grown the U.S. version to another level with his vision and management style, according to Boldt who came to Schoolcraft after graduating from the University of Missouri and University of Michigan Flint’s MBA program in food science.

The FDA recommends up to 25 grams of fiber be consumed per day to obtain the maximum health benefit.  Some of this requirement can be obtained by the food additive fibers that J. Rettenmaier produces.  The company crushes apples, potatoes, peas and many other foods to make insoluble fibers that maintain integrity throughout a person’s digestive process, according to Boldt.

The company makes many different fibers going into food. Some of them are displayed in jars on the wall of the conference room.

Fiber is nature’s pipe cleaner that scrubs the inside of the gut, he adds.  The product can also increase the shelf life of frozen breads and pizza dough with its healthy ingredients.  The company is SQF certified (Safe Quality Foods) through strict auditing and monitoring.

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