IAOM celebrates milestone in Michigan

by Arvin Donley
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Perhaps at no point in its 113-year history has the International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM) enjoyed a broader global appeal than it does today.

During its annual conference and expo, held April 27-May 1 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S., the association celebrated an important milestone when it introduced Bolivia native Ivo Klaric, Horizon Milling, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, as the first president of IAOM from outside of North America.

"I live in Canada, I have a Bolivian passport and my godfather is from Croatia," Klaric said during his acceptance speech during the annual IAOM banquet. "All of this makes sense in times of globalization. Our growth, sustainability and contribution to the milling industry need to continue. Our membership continues to successfully grow in international fields." With membership expanding in the Mideast/Africa District and the newly formed Eurasia District, and the prospect for increased growth in the Latin American District, which in November will hold its annual meeting in South America (in Buenos Aires, Argentina) for this first time, the IAOM has been successful in expanding its reach.

Even the awards ceremony had an international flavor, as Essa Abdulla Al Ghurair, general manager of National Mills Flour Company in Dubai, was honored with the Thaddeus B. Bownik Outstanding Service Award and Evgeny Gan, chairman of the Eurasia District, received a special gift from outgoing IAOM President Royal Denning.

"I think over the last few years a lot of people have commented on the fact that they’re really starting to see the ‘I’ in IAOM," said IAOM Executive Vice-President Melinda Farris, who noted that 27 different countries were represented at the conference in Grand Rapids.

Klaric said among his top priorities during his year as president will be ensuring that IAOM continues to strengthen the grain milling industry through short courses, correspondence courses and conference-sharing experiences.

"We need to continue our work to bring together the best technical milling information, mill management techniques and the latest information on new milling equipment so that we may efficiently educate and train our members," Klaric said. "We believe a solid network of millers will strengthen IAOM, the international milling industry and the capabilities of individual millers who belong to IAOM."

The 2009 conference in Grand Rapids, located in the heart of soft wheat milling territory, drew about 700 registrants and nearly 100 suppliers who showcased their products and services during the expo.

For the second straight year, Buhler AG unveiled a new product at the expo. This year Buhler brought its Polaris purifier to the trade show floor and described its unique features during the "Product Showcase" portion of the expo program.

Other products highlighted during the showcase were: the BF-52 Bran Finisher from Kice Industries; the ARP-500 High Speed Robotic Unitizing System from Premier Tech Systems; the Cirrus Fogging Concentrate Insecticide from The Industrial Fumigant Co.; the Stainless Steel Modular SFX Plansifter from Ocrim S.p.A; and the MAR (Moister Absorbent Resistant) synthetic mesh material used in sieve screens from SaatiTech.

The educational program included 28 presentations that focused on four general topics: facility management; quality control; technical operations and employee management.


Greg Ball, mill superintendent at King Milling Company in Lowell, Michigan, U.S., received the 24th annual Milling Operative of the Year award on April 30 during the annual banquet.

The award, sponsored by Milling & Baking News and World Grain and presented by Charles Sosland, chairman of Sosland Publishing Company, is given each year to the practicing milling operative who has made the most significant contributions to the progress of his plant, company and the industry from an operations standpoint.

In submitting the nomination, Jim Doyle, senior vice-president of King Milling, said Ball has employed a steady work ethic and intelligent, investigative knowledge of the milling process to enhance operations at King Milling during his 16 years as mill superintendent.

"He was instrumental in two major expansions, each of which increased the milling capacity by 50%," Doyle said. "For 31 years he has quietly and capably gone about his job of making quality flour."

In presenting the award, Sosland noted that Ball has stood out for his ability "to mill multiple classes of wheat on one milling unit as well as juggle the production of eight kinds of bran and other specialty products, all the while keeping sharp focus on meeting the demands of the company’s customers."

Doyle described Ball as a "personable, good-natured boss who has taken countless weekend and middle-of-thenight calls from his milling crew. This temperament and relationship with his millers, co-workers and company management is exemplary and without doubt contributes to the company’s low (employee) turnover."

A $1,500 scholarship from Sosland Publishing will be established in Ball’s name at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, U.S., and be given to a deserving student in the Department of Grain Science and Industry.


Three other longtime members of the IAOM received awards during the banquet. Gary Pickelmann, corporate milling superintendent for Star of the West Milling Company, Frankenmuth, Michigan, received the Gold Medal Award for his service to the industry. Pickelmann has worked at Star of the West for 36 years and been an IAOM member since 1977.

"I want to thank all of the wonderful people at Star of the West who have given me the opportunity to do what I’ve been able to do," said Pickelmann, the 16th person to win the Gold Medal Award in the IAOM’s 113-year history.

Essa Abdulla Al Ghurair, general manager of National Flour Mills Co. in Dubai, and Neil Mathieson were honored with the Thaddeus B. Bownik Outstanding Service Award during the ceremony.

Mathieson has been in the milling industry for more than 40 years and an IAOM member since 1974, serving on the IAOM technical committee for many of those years.

"He was always very open and willing to share information and insights on milling and various other subjects that came up for discussion," said Pickelmann, who presented the award to Mathieson.

In recognizing Al Ghurair, former IAOM President Jim Doyle said, "There is no question that the growth of the IAOM Mideast & Africa District came through (Al Ghurair’s) influence and quiet leadership."

Al Ghurair, who has been an IAOM member since 1989, was not at the banquet but will receive the award in October at the IAOM Mideast & Africa District meeting in Antalya, Turkey.


Joseph Woodard, general manager for Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Arkansas City, Kansas, U.S., was unanimously elected 2009-10 treasurer of the International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM) at the association’s annual business meeting on April 30. Woodard replaces Bart Hahlweg, ConAgra Foods, Oakland, California, U.S., who moved to the position of vice-president, and is in line to serve as the association’s president from 2011-12.

Woodard has been an active member of IAOM since 1980. He was director of IAOM’s Wheat State District from 2003-09 and served as that district’s chairman in 1999-2000. While serving as IAOM treasurer, Woodard will also be vice president of the International Milling Education Foundation (IMEF), a philanthropic partner of IAOM that funds a variety of educational programs related to the grain milling industry. Woodard has been an IMEF trustee since it was founded in 2003.

During the meeting, it was reported that IAOM had a net operating profit of $96,000, the fourth consecutive year that the association has operated with a net profit. It was also noted that total donations for the International Milling Education Foundation (IMEF) have risen to $228,000. The IMEF is building an endowment to fund a variety of educational programs, professional development efforts and research projects for the grain milling industry. Through IMEF funding, IAOM recently announced that it will grant a $2,500 scholarship each year to a deserving student in Kansas State University’s milling science program. The first student to receive this scholarship is Drew Pettijohn, who will be a junior at KSU next year.


Throughout the week in Grand Rapids, 130 conference attendees took advantage of the opportunity to tour The King Milling’s facility in nearby Lowell. The site is one of a handful of water-powered flour mills (about 3% of the mill’s energy is generated by water) left in the U.S. The Flat River was first dammed in 1844, and the Superior Mill was built on the facility’s current site in 1867. The King Milling Company was founded in 1890, after Superior Mill filed for bankruptcy. At its founding, the facility produced 390 cwts of flour per day.

The Doyle family became involved with King Milling in 1900 when Thomas Doyle purchased stock in the company. In 1943, the old Superior Mill burned to the ground. The Doyle family, under the leadership of Thomas’ son, William, used this as an opportunity to improve the mill. A state-of-theart concrete mill filled with all the most modern milling equipment of its time was completed in 1945. This mill produced 600 cwts of flour per day and could store 80,000 bushels of wheat.

After William passed away unexpectedly, his sons King and Mike took over. King’s son Brian and Mike’s sons Jim and Steve joined the company in the early 1980s.

Together with their fathers, they increased the daily capacity of the white-flour mill to a fully automated 5,400 cwts and built a whole-wheat mill capable of producing 5,000 cwts of whole-wheat flour per day. The storage capacity was increased to approximately 2,800,000 bushels of wheat. The most recent update in 2004 saw an additional floor added to the mill, and an increase in capacity to 8,000 cwts.

Steve Doyle, who gave a presentation on the history of the mill as part of the educational program at this year’s conference, said using the same exterior structure since 1945, the mill is now 85% more space efficient and produces 13 times the amount it could when it was originally built.

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