Founder Kent Bahr and his family started KC’s Best in 1994 to compete against fund raising products like the often-sold chocolate bar. Their goal was to provide a product that was fairly priced, highly valued and had a long shelf life. Wild Rice was a natural fit.
It makes sense Kent wanted to help fund raisers. For more than 17 years Kent was the volunteer youth director at the Evangelical Free Church of Bemidji. Kent knew (and still knows) fund raisers.
Business in the fund-raising product game started out well. But businesses couldn’t get enough KC’s Best Wild Rice. Business appreciated Kent’s no pressure sales pitch and that Kent was a consistently honest and fair price Wild Rice wholesaler. Eventually, grocery stores, gift shops and like began selling KC’s Best Wild Rice. Today, you can find KC’s Best Wild Rice at Wal-Mart, Super One Foods, Lueken’s Foods, Costco—its in more than 37 stores.
Plus you can always find us here, in our on-line store. We have the best rice at the best price.
In the Summer of 2021 Kent and his wonderful wife, Joy decided to retire. After listing their business, they met the folks from Red Lake Incorporated. Kent has always been fascinated with the history of wild rice and how the Ojibwe harvested Wild Rice in our region (Northern Minnesota) and to have a company wholly owned by a federally recognized Indian Tribe purchase a Wild Rice business was something special.
Today, KC’s is owned by Red Lake Incorporated and is operated by our all star crew, Nikki, Eric and Stephanie. Kent is still here and active in the business and has built a strong relationship with the new owners.
Eric manages the office at KC’s and is the person who is mostly likely to answer the phone. Eric is from Bemidji. In Eric’s off time, he enjoys curling. Because Bemidji is home to curling Olympians, Eric has managed to carve out a handful of wins against curling Olympians. Eric is also currently a board member for the local curling club.
Nikki manages our packaging department and has been at KC’s for six years. Nikki is a Hogwarts fan and suspects she’d be placed in Ravenclaw or Slytherin. Nikki is amazingly meticulous in packaging and our precision in packaging is directly because of Nikki.
Stephanie works in packaging and loves to help with any project KC’s is doing. Stephanie loves doing any and all projects for KC’s Best. In Stephanie’s off-time, she loves writing poetry. And traveling with her husband’s rock band, he’s the drummer. Stephanie has a big heart and loves animals.
I know building and creating a wild rice company isn’t very common. It’s a very relationship-based and time demanding industry, but it’s also a passion. I love the history and culture of the Native Americans and how they began harvesting wild rice. Their stories and traditions regarding wild rice are fascinating. It’s also an industry that continues to evolve. From being sought after with paddles and canoes, to being machine-harvested with combines, northern Minnesota and Canadian grown wild rice are special products we all love and are passed down from generation to generation. Greek Philosopher Plato is credited with the saying “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I had worked many years at a career that kept me away from home nights and evenings. I definitely felt the need to be at home with my wife Joy and our children Jennifer, Melissa, and Joshua
Another wise person, my sister Jan Fenson, said, “You will be more successful in your career if you choose to work at something you enjoy.” I enjoyed working with youth as I had served as a volunteer youth director at the Evangelical Free Church of Bemidji, Minnesota for 17 years. My education, background, and aptitude had been in the business field. Combining business with youth work became a “no-brainer” for me.
Fundraising for most youth workers, coaches, advisors, and parents is frustrating at best. This necessary evil was filled with products that were overpriced and/or of little value. I felt much of the frustration could be taken away if groups had a fair priced, highly valued product with a long shelf life. That product grew right in my home area of northern Minnesota … wild rice! Could we get this great product to youths throughout the U.S. at a price where they could raise their needed funds and allow their customers to purchase at a fair price? Our research came back with a resounding answer: YES!
The new Bahr family venture needed a name. The name came from my initials, K.C., for Kent Clifford (Bahr). Clifford is also my father’s name, so it has special family meaning. Our goal was to provide the best products, at the best prices, with the best service. KC’s BEST Wild Rice was born in February 1994.
We developed the packaging, met government requirements and sourced out the finest Minnesota grown wild rice. Joy’s tried and true favorite wild rice recipes were incorporated into our packaging. We soon found ourselves assisting those first fundraisers. However, area businesses wanted our products. They liked our honest and no pressure way of doing business; just provide quality wild rice at the most competitive prices in a fast and efficient manner. Restaurants, grocery stores, and gift shops soon became the concentration of our business.
KC’s BEST continued to grow. Many people asked how they could get our wild rice if they weren’t near a store that sold it. That question was answered by developing our online store.
We wish we could get to know each and every one of you, our valued customers. You are invaluable to us and we want to thank each and every one of you for using KC’s BEST wild Rice. Most of all we would like to thank God for taking the needs of our family and blessing it beyond our imagination! May God bless you and yours beyond your wildest dreams too!