IAOM off to an encouraging start

by Emily Buckley
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Although the show held May 17-21, 2003 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., marked the 107th conference for this group, it was the first celebrated as the International Association of Operative Millers, the new name adopted by the association in late 2002.

The new name was coupled with innovative ideas for the trade show, themed "History in the Making."

IAOM active and associate members looked with positive favor on the new features and energy of the show: attendees noticed the biggest change when walking around the trade show floor, occasionally being able to overhear the presenter of a technical session or instructional briefing — a new opportunity for suppliers to give 20-minute technical presentations. Both education offerings were moved directly to the trade show floor, offering easy access between speakers and the nearly 100 exhibiting companies.

Members and exhibitors alike enjoyed the new layout. According to a survey of attendees, 98% to 100% strongly agreed that conference was worth their time. Additionally, 97% said they would recommend the conference to others.

Attending millers and suppliers expressed commitment to the organization, and a willingness ‘to step up’ and find ways to strengthen it for future success and survival, whether by encouraging membership growth, offering continued support, or dedicating time to IAOM’s committees.

At the annual banquet, Richard Ferrell reflected on the many achievements during his 2002-03 term as president.

"First we changed the name to IAOM, created a new mission statement, assigned responsibility for a new member drive, assessed ways to begin improving committee functions and membership services, started development of a new web site, and formed a global strategies committee," he said. "All these things are being done to strengthen the association. It’s been gratifying to be involved with these positive changes for the IAOM and to experience the enthusiasm and resolve that is involved with the changes."

David Neff, of Milner Milling, Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S. and the IAOM’s current 2003-04 president, broke tradition by choosing not to specify a theme for his upcoming term, but he plans to focus on member recruitment and involvement.

"We have to get the word out regarding the services and education that our organization provides to the industry," he said. "The milling companies are the largest benefactors of the wealth of education that this association provides. We need their support through membership and participation."

Neff noted that overall the membership of the organization is down 10% — down 33% in the Latin America district and down 23% in the Middle East-Africa district.

"The very future of our organization depends on changes that we must make now," he said. "The IAOM has a rich tradition, but we must be cognizant of the changing times in our industry."

A feasilibity report of a joint trade show beginning in 2008 will be presented to the board of directors in September, he noted.

"I would urge those that remain on the sidelines to get involved, you will not only help a wonderful organization, but you will be enriched in ways you will not believe," he said.



At an open meeting of the Global Strategies Committee, held Saturday May 17, long-time IAOM members offered assistance in finding ways for the association to expand services and membership around the world. With IAOM members in 65 different countries, 29 of which were repre-sented at the trade show, the association is off to a good start.

"The majority of millers in the world are not in North America," said Tim Burliegh of Colorado Global Resources who agreed to head this committee. "There is still a lot of isolation among millers in countries around the world. I see IAOM offering a chance to communicate and educate."

Several hurdles were identified, such as economics, languages, the funding required for world travel, and the need to update training materials. However, it was agreed that the IAOM is best suited to provide many services to a global membership, particularly in building relationships and offering education with an emphasis on technical developments and research.

"The IAOM is the best opportunity for millers to know each other and spend time together, to find resources in each other," Burliegh said.

Gary Anderson, IAOM’s executive vice-president, said "The worldwide demand for cheaper, safer and more nutritious food products has never been greater. If we, the international milling community, more effectively pool our resources, the resulting worldwide network will be much more effective in developing the education, training and research necessary to meet the need’s of the 21st century consumer." IAOM is currently putting together a member recruitment plan and is also working in Latin America, Northern Africa, Asia, and North America to increase membership in those regions.


Numerous social opportunities — including the conference opening Buhler-sponsored reception on Saturday, the Allied Trades Event, the Latin American reception and the Satake-sponsored reception preceeding the banquet — gave attendees many opportunities to see old friends and meet new ones, to celebrate the fraternity of the IAOM by sharing ideas and resources.

Millers also experienced a wide variety of training at the technical sessions and instructional briefings.

At the annual breakfast, keynote presenters and food industry consultants, Robert Ludwig and Perry Fri of The Hale Group, challenged millers to step out of daily duties and look ahead 10 years at the "mega issues:" food safety, biotech, consolidation, information management, consumer obesity, excess capacity and globalization.

For instance, in the past, competition was based on product versus product. In the future, it will be based on supply chain versus supply chain, Ludwig said. To adapt, companies need a new philosophy to remove inefficiency; free sharing of information; and increased interaction between suppliers, processors and venders to merge expertise.

The issue of obesity is also a growing concern for this industry, with more than 65% of the U.S. population overweight, Fri said. "People are starting to relate food companies and obesity to tobacco companies and smoking," he said.

Fri warned millers that "a potential reduction in U.S. caloric consumption will affect your business."


At the annual banquet, several honors were presented. First, Robert G. Reid, vice-president of operations for The Mennel Milling Co., was named the 2003 Milling Operative of the Year. The award, presented annually by Milling & Baking News (sister publication of WG) for the past 18 years, recognizes an active milling operative who has made significant contributions to the progress of his plant, his company and the milling industry. In addition to the annual honor, Sosland Publishing Co. establishes a $1,500 scholarship in the winner’s name at Kansas State University at Manhattan.

In his nomination letter, Donald L. Mennel, president of Mennel Milling, said Reid exemplifies quiet leadership and believes in liberating people to do what is required of them in the most effective way.

"He has led the Total Quality Management Steering Committee at our company and led a complete change in attitude toward safety management," Mennel said in his letter.

"Under his leadership, the company’s flour mills have established exemplary safety records, achieved continuous American Institute of Baking superior sanitation ratings, implemented Good Manufacturing Practices and became A.I.B. HAACP certified," he added.

As vice-president of operations, Reid directed the successful expansion of Mennel’s principal mill six years ago, including the removal of a 2,000-cwt milling unit and the installation of a 7,000-cwt unit while the other two flour milling units continued to operate.

"I can attest to his professionalism and dedication in improving all aspects of each mill under his jurisdiction," one plant manager said of Reid. "He has been an aggressive advocate for improving each mill through judicious capital investment, improved attention to fundamental milling principles and an inclusive Total Quality Management philosophy that energizes each workforce to achieve their goals."

In addition to his work at Mennel, Reid has provided impressive leadership within the IAOM. Reid was IAOM president when he joined Mennel in 1991. He also has been a member and chairman of the Technical Committee, has represented the IAOM on the National Grain and Feed Association’s grain quality workshops and has spoken on several occasions at the IAOM conference.

"He has always preached the benefits of the IAOM," another company plant manager said. "He encourages us to attend the meetings and knows we will learn something new because of it."

At the award presentation, Don Mennel went on to say, "Every company should have their head of operations be as passionate as Bob is, and every company should support the I.A.O.M., its mission and purpose and send their representatives to the I.A.O.M. annual meeting and trade show so that they might improve their skills and knowledge and grow in their positions and passion," Mennel said.

In his introduction to the presentation of the plaque, Charles Sosland, chief executive officer of Sosland Publishing, quoted Reid: "Milling above all else is a discipline. To maintain maximum efficiency and throughput with a minimum of mistakes, there are certain things you must do routinely, be it every hour, shift, day, week or month. If you fail to do them, your results and efficiency will suffer."

In accepting the award, Reid was both surprised and appreciative, saying that the milling industry has been his passion.

The conference also marked another milestone as Ted Bownik concluded 43 years of service to IAOM. The IAOM special service award, renamed last year to the Thaddeus B. Bownik Outstanding Service Award, was unveiled at the banquet.

Bownik served as IAOM treasurer for the past 25 years and was president during 1972-73.

"I remember all those who have donated time and efforts not only to the industry but to this association to make their business a success and the IAOM a success," Bownik said. So many people have achieved success by working with this association and coming back with the reward of a job well done, he said.

"Thanks for the memories," he concluded.

James Doyle, senior vice-president of King Milling Co., Lowell, Michigan, U.S. has moved into the IAOM Treasurer position for 2003-04 and will move into the vice-president position for 2004-05 during William Dutton’s term as president. Dutton is the manager of Deseret Mill & Elevator in Kaysville, Utah, U.S.

In other business settled at the meeting, the President-Elect position was eliminated, and the Chairman of the Board position was renamed to Immediate Past President.