|Phil Weisenberger is the sixth-generation manager of his family's mill on South Elkhorn Creek near Midway.|
|Weisenberger displays cornmeal immediately after grinding.|
Story and photos by Jamilyn Hall
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
On the bank of South Elkhorn Creek near Midway stands Weisenberger Mill, where the family is celebrating 150 years in business at the same location. The mill has passed through six generations and continues to create a local product with wide reach.
|Above bottles of the mill's grains and their basic grinds are|
portraits of Gus Weisenberger, Phil's great-grandfather, and
Phil Weisenberger, his grandfather, who died in 2008.
“We have been open for 150 years, since 1865. We still grind things the same way that we did in 1913,” when the current mill was built, said Philip Weisenberger, manager and son of owner Mac Weisenberger.
Weisenberger is a small company with a large reach, making about 85 percent of its sales wholesale, Weisenberger said.
|Sacks of flour boldly labeled "WEISENBERGER" are prepared for shipping at the mill's loading dock.|
When the Breeders’ Cup came to Lexington, the family company saw increase in business. “I have noticed an increase in people stopping by here in the last week,” Weisenberger said that week. “There’s a lot more people in town looking for culture and things to see.”
|About 15 percent of the mill's business is retail.|
“I have seen an increase in the awareness and the desire to buy local, and local foods, in the last five years,” Weisenberger said. “That has really helped us in some ways to increase awareness of local foods. All of our grain here is grown in Kentucky, it’s non-GMO [genetically modified organisms]. So it really is local food in every sense of the way.”
The Weisenbergers and their three employees look to extend their reach, at trade shows.
“The Incredible Food Show was this past weekend, this was our seventh year,” said Phil. “It’s a local food event in downtown Lexington. It caters to a lot of foodies and other people that like to cook at home.”
|Boxes of products are ready for shipping.|
The mill’s power source has been one of its few changes since 1865. “You can’t rely on the water,” because the creek level varies, Weisenberger said. “In the 1930s they put in diesel power to run the mill and then after that they put in electricity.”
The mill continues to use creek water, but “to turn turbines, and then it turns an electric generator and makes electricity,” Weisenberger said loudly over the roar of the machines. “We use electricity to run the mill, but we use the generator to generate electricity to offset the costs.”
But in 150 years of business the Weisenbergers haven’t seen much change. “We still grind the corn and we still grind the wheat essentially the same way,” Weisenberger said.
“One thing that used to drive me crazy as a kid was, nothing changed out here; it was always the same. There’s something to be said about finding something you do good and sticking to it, that's what we do.”
|The mill's interior has the original wood floors but lots of modern equipment. It's a manufacturing plant.|