Millers unite at IAOM's 108th annual conference

by Emily Buckley
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The International Association of Operative Millers’ (IAOM) 108th Technical Conference and Trade Show in Wichita, Kansas, U.S., May 15-19, 2004 drew attendees and exhibitors from more than 25 different countries.

Millers experienced an expanded educational lineup with technical sessions and instructional briefings held simultaneously and adjacent to the trade show floor so members could easily visit with more than 90 trade show exhibitors. The presentations covered both current issues facing the industry, such as consumer grain promotion efforts, energy conservation, space treatment options, and plant security and safety, as well as technical basics, such as hammer mill and conveyor troubleshooting, blower maintenance and test milling.

David Neff, vice president of operations for Milner Milling, Chattanooga, Tennessee, concluded his term as IAOM 2003-04 president at the end of the conference, passing the reign to William Dutton, manager of Deseret Mill & Elevator in Kaysville, Utah, U.S.

In his last speech as president, Neff reflected on his focus to promote IAOM membership and enhance IAOM services. To that end, for the first time, the IAOM included two pre-conference workshops, on milling maintenance and pest management, in addition to a full-day educational session for the Latin American Technical session.

To help fund IAOM’s expanding services and grain milling education programs, the group in late 2003 formed the International Milling Education Foundation with the goal to build a U.S.$3 million endowment. In its first fundraising drive, nearly U.S.$9,000 was raised during the conference.

Dutton, in his acceptance speech, outlined three main objectives for the coming year. He began by relating "cairns" — small stacks of rocks that are commonly used to guide the way of hikers when the paths are not clear — to the many people who have been guiding beacons in his life and milling career.

He then asked the mature millers in the association to be ‘cairns’ for the industry by passing along trade skills and developing young talent in the mill.

Second, Dutton said he would work closely with the industry to motivate mill managers to invest in their employees’ careers by supporting their involvement with and service to the IAOM.

He called on newer IAOM members to take advantage of the association and to learn from the leaders among them.

"We have these great cairns in the industry; they’re the best instructors you’ll get, and we should be taking advantage of them," Dutton later told World Grain.

Third, Dutton said he would continue efforts to elevate the IAOM services, such as revising the correspondence courses, raising funds for IMEF, evaluating the trade show and working with allied trades.

"It’s vital we start making an investment in our future," Dutton said. "We need to deliver tools and references to educate individuals to help create the leadership for tomorrow."

In other leadership appointments, James Doyle, senior vice president of King Milling Co., Lowell, Michigan, U.S., moved up to IAOM vice-president, and Steve Curran, plant manager for General Mills Inc., Carlisle, Iowa, U.S. was named secretary/treasurer.

At the conference-concluding banquet, Mike Long, director of milling technology and engineering for Bay State Milling Co., Winona, Minnesota, U.S., received the 2004 Milling Operative of the Year award.

Presented annually by Milling & Baking News for the past 19 years, the award recognizes a 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 U.S.$1,500 scholarship in the winner’s name at Kansas State University at Manhattan.

A 1978 graduate of Kansas State University with a degree in milling science, Long began his career as a shift miller and later as a milling superintendent with The Pillsbury Co. In 1988, Long joined a large milling equipment manufacturer in the development and implementation of what became known as the K.S.U. Shortflow mill.

Long joined Bay State Milling in 1995 as director of milling technology and engineering, heading several capital improvements projects during the past 10 years.

In his nomination letter, Brian G. Rothwell, president of Bay State Milling, said Long "has been a vital clog in our emergence as a major player in the flour milling industry. Most importantly, he remains a humble, likeable team player who is always willing to give of himself to reach out and mentor younger millers coming into the industry."

In accepting the award, Long thanked his co-workers and peers in the industry. Today, Long is already obliging Dutton’s plea for leaders and is taking the lessons he learned and passing them along to the next generation of millers. That task, he noted, presents many challenges.

"Milling is a difficult industry," Long explained. "In this day and age, it’s hard to find people who want to put the time in, and it’s a struggle to find talented people who want to make milling their passion. If they think of it as just a job they will never get anywhere. We can give them the tools to succeed, but it is up to them to follow through. But if they are willing to give the time, I think there is a great career out there for them."

The IAOM also honored the exceptional service of four members.

Albert Soder, who retired in 2002 as group vice president-milling for Buhler Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., received the Allied Trades Technical Award for his service as a longtime U.S.

"His work in developing Buhler’s training center in Uzwil, Switzerland has advanced the milling industry and the technology used to teach students," said 2000-01 IAOM President Kendall McFall when presenting the award. "We honor his passion and commitment to milling education, and his dedicated service and support to operative millers."

The Donald S. Eber Award honoring the long and dedicated service of IAOM district secretaries was presented to Jim Schroeder, president of Great Western Mfg. Co. Inc., Leavenworth, Kansas, U.S. For 19 years, Schroeder has served as secretary of IAOM's Central District, which is consistently the largest district in the association, McFall added.

IAOM also honored two pillars of the Latin American district with a special service award, which was renamed last year to the Thaddeus B. Bownik Outstanding Service Award. Derek Westall was recognized for his more than 50 years of dedication to the industry and the association. He has served IAOM as Latin American district treasurer and chairman, international director and technical committee member. Westall retired in 2001, but still consults in Mexico and Central America.

David Tullo, of Chile-based consulting company Inagrain S.A., also received the service award for his continued involvement with the district, including direct assistance with this year’s extended program.

"It is nice to see the Latin meeting growing to a full-day session," Tullo said. "It needs to be repeated, and we will continue to support the IAOM in every way we can."

Save the date!
The 109th IAOM Technical Conference and Trade Show is scheduled for April 30-May 4, 2005 in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.