FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Arva Four Mill - News Release: September 2021
North America’s oldest continuously operating commercial flour mill saved by businessman
Entrepreneur With Family Ties To Arva Vows To Preserve Mill’s Legacy With Strong Vision For Growth and Modernization
Arva, ON, September 15, 2021 - Entrepreneur and family man Mark Rinker has purchased the 202 year old Arva Flour Mill. Vowing to keep the Mill operating while preserving the tradition and history, Rinker is eyeing opportunities to grow new and existing markets through expansion and modernization. Though the business case is strong, entrepreneurship wasn’t what initially drew him to the opportunity. Rinker spent time as a boy with his father on and around the Mill property which fueled his connection and love for the business and its legacy.
“It’s simple really, being at the Mill gives me joy. From a very young age I formed a bond with the property, the people and processes that make the Mill special,” said Mark Rinker, the newly minted owner of the Arva Flour Mill. “I have recently retired as VP Sales with a pharmacy automation company and the timing was just right. When I approached the Matthews family with our vision for the property and the business, we found alignment immediately in preserving the property and legacy for future generations to enjoy. Keeping the rich history and traditions of the Mill intact are as important to me as any commercial success,” added Rinker.
The Rinker family will continue to work closely with the Matthews family who have owned and operated the Mill for the last 100 years. Though there was extensive interest from numerous developers and alternate use cases from as far as China, Vancouver and Toronto, the Matthews family is pleased the Mill remains in local hands and will continue to operate.
“We had a lot of interest from multiple parties all over the world who wanted to re-develop the land, but ultimately, Mark’s vision to respect and continue the legacy of what our family has built over the last 100 years was most important to us,” said Mike Matthews, former Mill Owner. “We’re thrilled that the Mill will continue to operate and is in local hands. We’ll be around to continue to support Mark and his family with whatever they need. We couldn’t be happier with how things worked out,” added Matthews.
Growth, Modernization and Respecting The Environment
The Arva Flour Mill customer base is steadfast, loyal and longstanding and many have been coming to the Mill for generations. Approximately 100 individual customers visit the site each day and the Mill also has a few select retail partners dotted throughout Southwestern Ontario including Remark Fresh Markets in London and Windsor. Rinker is set to continue to honour and serve those customers, increase retail distribution, build the brand and grow the operation, including an investment in updating equipment and new infrastructure for new products. “We want to continue to honour and serve the existing customers that have kept this mill going for many generations while looking into buildings and equipment to serve new markets,” shared Rinker. “We’ll invest immediately in some automation to begin to mill gluten free flours. This will be done in a separate building with new and dedicated equipment to prevent cross contamination. Expansion will allow for more people to be able to come onsite and experience the magic of this place without changing the mill or its important natural environment,” said Rinker.
Rinker also has a vision to partner longterm with a winery and/or distillery onsite to increase foot traffic to the property as well as expand distribution of the Arva Mills flour and dried good items beyond the on-site store via specialty retailers and farm-to-table partners. “There’s a strong artisan and craft food movement in North America and we plan to play an active role in it,” said Rinker.
Rinker is also investigating additional use cases for the dam, including ways to have the hydroelectric power from the dam power the entire property with an eventual goal of a net carbon zero footprint, a goal he says is well within reach. “This property is part of a very special ecosystem and we are taking our responsibility to steward the land very seriously”, said Rinker. “Providing approval from key stakeholders, the water mill turbine will be repurposed to pair with a generator to make our own electricity. The goal is to totally offset current hydro use and be a net zero carbon food producer,” added Rinker.
About The Arva Flour Mill
Arva Flour Mills, in Arva, Ontario, is located on the banks of the Medway Creek and is North America’s oldest continuously operating water powered commercial flour mill and the 6th oldest continually operating business in Canada (just behind BMO).
Originally established in 1819, unlike most other heritage mills, they have never ceased operations and continue to produce premium flour.
They mill natural heritage flour from non-GMO wheat from small nearby family-owned and operated farms. Their vintage roller mills produce a heritage flour with no preservatives or undesirable commercial additives. They mill traditionally and customers receive fresh flour that has not been sitting on a shelf or in a warehouse for long periods of time.
Around 1900, the original grist mill-stones were replaced with roller mills, which were the “state of the art” at the time. These are the vintage milling machines they still use to produce their flours to this day. For the most part, the mill operates virtually the same way it did in the early part of the previous century, with half the mill still running on water power; with the rest on electricity.
The Mill sells a vast array of organic, natural and local products and is also home to the Mill House Bakery. It continues to thrive today under the leadership of Mike Matthews and his family, and will continue to grow and thrive under the new ownership of Mark Rinker and family.
About The Rinker Family
Mark Rinker and his father owned Magna-Pak, a business based in Arva for a number of years and located across from the Mill, which fueled Mark’s passion and appreciation for the property. Rinker family roots in the region extend back 150 years with their early family settling in Thedford, Grand Bend and Dashwood.
Matthew Rinker, Mark’s son, previously worked with Mark for 5 years at Synergy Medical as a Sales Executive covering Ontario and Atlantic Canada. Upon learning of Mark’s decision to retire in early July, he resigned his position to work alongside Mark in whatever venture they decided to invest in. Matthew Rinker is a graduate of Saunders Secondary School and Western University.
Mark is a graduate of Montcalm Secondary School, Western University and is recently retired after a successful 35 year career in the Medical Device and Pharmacy Automation Industries. Prior to retirement Mark spent the previous decade as VP Sales, North America for a Canadian Pharmacy Automation Company, Synergy Medical. On June 30th, 2021 the business was sold to Parata, North America’s largest Pharmacy Automation Company. Mark has been married for 31 years to Jo-elle and has 2 grown children, Matthew and Mackenzie, as well as one grand-daughter.