Eastern Idaho’s Bench Mark Potatoes Moves Into New Digs

Gives company more room to operate

Published online: Jan 17, 2023 Articles
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After packaging and shipping famous Idaho potatoes for 30 years from a warehouse in Thornton, ID, Bench Mark Potatoes moved to a new location in Rexburg, ID, this summer after buying out High Country Potato from the Cornelison family.

Bench Mark, owned by a group of five eastern Idaho growers, had been operating in the aging Thornton location, which was built in the 1930s and was an easily recognized landmark just off U.S. Highway 20. Bench Mark’s new location at 900 University Blvd. was built in 1989.

The owners include Kent Sutton and Lee Sutton from Sunnydell, ID; David Schwendiman and Stan Schwendiman from the Rexburg/Newdale area; and Lee Miller, who farms in the Egin/Parker area. Kent Sutton also serves as the general manager of Bench Mark. Bench Mark operates as a fresh pack facility with company labels including Pride of the Valley and Farm Fresh, getting its potato supply from its grower-owners.

Not only is the warehouse Bench Mark bought and moved into more modern, it’s considerably larger than the company’s Thornton location, which sat on one acre compared to its current location at 20 acres.

Talking about the decision to buy High Country Potato and move Bench Mark into that facility, Kent Sutton said it was because of “Our desire to stay in business.” He explained, “We exhausted the usefulness of the [Thornton] building. It was in poor repair.”

He commented that buying the High Country Potato facility was definitely preferable to starting from scratch and building a new packing shed.

Sutton said Bench Mark will use part of the old Thornton building for various purposes such as storage but nearly all the operations have moved to the new building, which “has a lot of nice amenities.”

Sutton added, “Capacity-wise, we can do as much in one day shift here as we did in a day and a night shift in our old building. It’s nice to not have to have a night shift.” And, he said, “we can store enough potatoes to run a shift.”

Moving to the new building “modernizes us,” Sutton said. “We have automated systems here we didn’t have in the other location.”

The bulk of Bench Mark potatoes are shipped to the Midwest although some go to the East Coast and California. Additionally, Bench Mark does export some potatoes to Mexico, Malaysia and Singapore

Along with several dedicated employees, including a handful who stayed over from High Country Potato, Sutton said he relies on Sven Erickson, who is the office manager, and Peggy Grover, who oversees the finances, to help him keep the operation running smoothly.

For more information, visit www.benchmarkpotato.com.