When 27 year old Charles Pillsbury came to Minneapolis in 1869, Minneapolis was a town of small businesses. He planned to start his own business, and he wanted it to be big. The industry he chose was flour milling.
Charles Pillsbury invested in a failing flour mill, hoping to turn it around.
One of the natural resources needed for flour milling was wheat. The land of southern and western Minnesota was great for farming. Once covered in prairie grasses, this land was converted to farmland by settlers. As more land was farmed, the supply of wheat grew from 1,400 bushels in 1850, to nearly 19 million bushels in 1870, to over 52 bushels in 1890. Another resource that the mill near St. Anthony Falls used was the falls itself. By the 1870s, that mill became the center of flour milling in Minnesota, poured by waterpower from the waterfall.
Until the 1870s, flour made from Minnesota wheat was speckled with brown flecks of bran and germ. When millers started using machines, the quality of their flour improved. One machine called the middlings purifier removed the brown flecks. Millers also needed machines, such as trains, to transport wheat and flour.
The flour milling industry needed many different people to be successful. These workers included farmers- to grow wheat, railroad workers- to transport the wheat and flour, machinists- to work the machines, barrel makers- to package the flour, and mill workers- to do the overall work of the mill. The highest paid workers were the ones who operated the huge machines. Their jobs needed the most skill, and were dangerous (many lost an arm or hand). The packers and the workers who swept the floor were the lowest paid, because their jobs took very little skill. However, all these people were needed for the flour milling industry.
Within 5 years, Charles Pillsbury's business was thriving. By the 1870s, production at his mills had increased from 300 barrels of flour a day to 3,000 barrels of flour a day. In conclusion, Charles Pillsbury was a successful businessman in the flour milling industry.