The Folkvord Family
Montana is known for its incredible landscapes, but it’s the people who live and work here that are the real treasure. Western Ranch Brokers is proud to partner with many remarkable clients and to highlight their contributions to Montana’s farm and ranch community. Through the stories of their families and their businesses, we hope to share what truly makes Montana great—the people who live here.
One of those remarkable individuals is Dean Folkvord, a multi-generation Montana farmer and landowner, who has transitioned from running the day-to-day operations of the family farm and business to managing the Folkvord family office.
Dean’s grandparents had a dairy farm in Helena, Montana, and then his parents started a dryland farm in 1978. As Dean explained, “Times were tough for farmers in Montana in the 1980s. Interest rates were high and lots of people quit and walked away. You couldn’t give land away back then. Somehow we survived those times and made it into the 1990s.”
The Folkvords evolved their family farm between Three Forks and Toston, Montana, into a farm-to-table operation, creating Wheat Montana in the 1990s. As Dean described it, they took wheat grown in one of driest spots in the entire state and evolved it into a business that processed that high-quality wheat into high-quality flour and baked goods. The company achieved nationwide and international distribution through Walmart, Costco, Kroger, and other major food distribution services with $40M in sales and 200 employees. “Sometimes the farm supported the bakery, and sometimes the bakery supported the farm. When they were both performing together, it was an economic marvel,” Dean noted.
Dean attributes the success and significance of Wheat Montana to it being in Montana. As he explained,
“Our farm-to-table business worked because Montanans stick together and want each other to be successful.”
In 2014, the Folkvords sold the Wheat Montana bakery, its mill and the Wheat Montana Delis to a private equity company, but they kept the farm where Dean had spent his formative years, married his wife Hope and raised their daughters.
The Folkvords weren’t looking to sell the family farm until Jim Toth of Western Ranch Brokers approached them in 2018, explaining that he had a listing on a neighboring farm and was looking to put together bigger chunks of ground for another family who had fallen in love with the area. “Jim didn’t really have an official listing. It was a back pocket listing, and he made it easy for us.”
With Jim taking the Folkvord family through the process step-by-step, the deal came together and the Folkvords looked at what they wanted to do next.
The family retained four sections of land with some of it still in dryland production. Their irrigated farm supplies the Leep Family Dairy with high-quality alfalfa hay for their 1,100 cows. Although the Folkvords are still involved with farming, Dean noted that his days are very different from when he was a full-time farmer. “It’s quite a transition, but I don’t miss the day-to-day grind and the agony of not getting what you want from Mother Nature.” He also shared that he does miss being regularly involved in the Montana ag community of like-minded men and women.
Now Dean and his wife Hope work with their two adult daughters and their families as they focus full-time on their family office, actively investing in the Montana community that has supported them. They have acquired and reimagined local hotels and restaurants including The Sacajawea Hotel and Pompey’s Grill in Three Forks and the RSVP Motel and Farmer’s Daughters Cafe in Bozeman. The family has also invested in several other local hospitality ventures, aviation, and real estate.
Reflecting on his experience with Western Ranch Brokers, Dean summarized, “Jim is a genuine guy who has a sincere interest in us achieving our goals. He has represented us in a number of real estate transactions—we’ve bought and sold ground, subdivided and sold lots with Jim— and it’s always been successful.”
As to what makes Montana special and what matters most to him as a Montanan, Dean shared, “The people all over the state, at all levels, whether they are involved in ag, business, politics, etc., are what makes this place unique. It’s easy to communicate up and down the food chain – and work together.”
At Western Ranch Brokers, we look forward to working with the Folkvord family as they continue to farm and invest in Montana.