Sailing toward new challenges

by Arvin Donley
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Heavy rains weren’t enough to dampen the spirits of hundreds of attendees from 26 countries at the 2007 International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM) Conference and Expo May 6-8 in Overland Park, Kansas, U.S.

Participants at the 111th annual conference gathered May 8 for the annual banquet and awards ceremony. Following the presentation of the Donald S. Eber Award to John "Sid" Sadowske, the Gold Medal Award to Vernon "Red" Tegeler, and the 2007 Milling Operative of the Year Award to Wade Blalock, immediate past president Steve Curran, plant manager at General Mills, Inc.’s facility in Carlisle, Iowa, U.S., passed the gavel to new IAOM President Keith Horton of Grain Millers, Inc., Eugene, Oregon, U.S.

In accepting the gavel, Horton thanked his father, Donald Horton, a third generation Horton family miller, who died in 2003.

"He always stood by me in all aspects of my life and encouraged me to give the very, very best to everything I undertook," Horton said. "Although at a young age I was determined I was not going to be a miller, I am very thankful for him talking me into carrying on the family tradition. Although he cannot join me at the podium today, he most certainly joins me in spirit. If not for him, I would have never pursued a career in milling."

Horton then shared his vision for the organization.

"I tell you with all sincerity that this association has more potential today than I believe its ancestors ever envisioned 111 years ago," Horton said. "But we will not stretch those boundaries and we will not reach that potential if we choose to be the ship that sits in the safe harbor. We must throw off our bowlines and catch the trade winds in our sails if we are to explore, dream and discover.

"My theme as president will be ‘Set Sail.’ This association set sail when it sought and embraced a growing international contingent with enthusiasm and commitment. We have stayed the course of that vision and we will continue to do so. My theme, however, is not a theme intended for the association, but for its members.

"I challenge each and every one of you in this room to leave the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sail, explore new challenges, dream of new opportunity — personally and professionally — and discover the potential that exists in each and every one of us. Although I encourage you to challenge yourself, we still have responsibility. Each of us in this room, whether we choose the role or not, are leaders, teachers, and role models for tomorrow’s generation. Our influence on those around us and those that will follow is not a choice, but a fact of life."

Wade Blalock, Milner Milling Company, Inc., Barnesville, Georgia, U.S., received the 2007 Milling Operative of the Year award during the banquet.

The award, presented annually for the past 22 years by Milling & Baking News, sister publication of World Grain, recognizes an active milling operative who has made the most significant contributions to the progress of his plant, his company and the industry from an operating point of view. Mark Sabo, president and publisher of Milling & Baking News, presented the award to Blalock.

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, Manhattan, Kansas, U.S.

Blalock joined Milner Milling in 1978 as a part-time miller at the company’s flour mill in Barnesville, working through the ranks to become a shift miller in 1985. He was promoted to plant manager of the facility in 1991.

In his nomination letter, David J. Neff, vice-president of operations, Milner Milling, said Blalock "was always looking for better ways to do things and he loved to experiment. I remember him constantly asking questions and the responsibility that he took for educating himself in milling theory and mill flow analysis."

Shortly after being promoted to plant manager, Blalock took on two mill expansion projects in the mid-1990s that proved to be extremely successful.

"Wade proved to be a tireless project leader and accomplished technical expert for the company," Neff wrote. "His mill has always achieved excellent milling results while maintaining the highest quality standards. The Barnesville facility has consistently achieved an excellent safety record."

Neff said Blalock also has proved to be a friend and partner to his customers.

"He has built solid customer relationships by learning his customers’ processes and responding to their needs," he wrote.

In 2002, Blalock helped with operations at the company’s Pendleton Flour Mills plant in Blackfoot, Idaho, U.S., where he implemented several plant improvements and was instrumental in improving mill performance. More recently, he was technical leader for the design, contracting and start-up of a new mill in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S., and assisted in mill operations and management in Rome, Georgia.

"There is one thing that I can put my finger on that explains why he is such an exceptional technical miller, and that is he absolutely loves milling," Neff wrote. "His briefcase is a storeroom of tools and flow sheets. He is truly a joy to work with in a mill because his enthusiasm for flour milling is contagious."

Blalock has played an active role at the IAOM, serving as Southeastern district officer and chairperson, and has been a member of the Technical Committee for the past four years.

Upon accepting the award, Blalock said it was "truly an honor" to be recognized.

"I thank the Lord every day for the great company I work for," he said. "I’ve really enjoyed it, and I still have a long ways to go."

For only the 15th time in the association’s 111-year history, the IAOM gave out its most prestigious award: the Gold Medal Award. The recipient, Vernon "Red" Tegeler, is vice-president of pro-duction at Siemer Milling Co., Teutopolis, Illinois, U.S.

The Gold Medal Award recognizes outstanding, long-term contributions and exemplary service to the IAOM. Tegeler has been an active member of the IAOM since 1979 and has been with Siemer Milling for 35 years.

"His boss (Richard Siemer), who has worked with him for the majority of those years, said that his admiration and respect for tonight’s recipient has continued to increase over the years," said David Neff, chairman of the IAOM Awards Committee, in presenting the award to Tegeler. "This recipient is described as a true champion of the IAOM and has been continuously active since the 1970s, and has served the association as a committee member, a board of directors’ member, a mainline speaker and as an officer, which culminated in his tenure as president.

"He is always encouraging others to take advantage of IAOM participation in both district and national activities, as well as short courses and workshops."

Neff continued, "He really, really cares about the people in his world — his associates and subordinates are not tools to him. The relationships are intensely personal. He expects much but gives much of himself to them as well. He is the epitome of the professional miller."

Upon accepting the award, Tegeler said, "This is quite an honor. The IAOM has meant so much to me through the years and it’s such a wonderful organization. If what I’ve done for the organization is deserving of this award, I can tell you it has been an honor and a pleasure."

The IAOM also presented the Donald S. Eber Award to longtime associate member John W. (Sid) Sadowske, Sid’s Corrugating and Machinery, Wichita, Kansas, U.S. The award is given to a district secretary/treasurer for outstanding service and commitment.

Sadowske, who began working for Witt Corrugating, Inc. in Wichita in 1987 before starting his own company, Sid’s Corrugating, in 1992, is a longtime supporter of the IAOM, and has served as the Allied Trades’ Wheat State District representative and secretary-treasurer for years.

"According to members in his district, he always contributes more than what is expected of him when it comes to our association," Neff said of Sadowske. "He never complains about the amount of work involved in his voluntary role. He always accepts responsibility for district affairs without hesitation and always gets the job done."

During his acceptance speech, Sadowske said, "A long time ago, (baseball legend) Lou Gehrig gave a speech at Yankee Stadium and said, ‘Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.’ I think I know what he meant — that’s the way I feel right now."

The IAOM Latin American District Conference was held in conjunction with the IAOM Conference and Expo on Saturday, May 5.

The event featured a number of new participants, including a contingent from Brazil, as well as milling industry experts who gave presentations. Brent Adams of Caravan Ingredients and Kansas State University professors Jeff Gwirtz and Bhadriraju Subramanyam (Subi) were among those giving presentations on topics of interest to the Latin American District.

During the meeting it was announced that Marco Fava, Fava Consultores Ltda., has been appointed the district’s new director. David Tullo, INAGRAIN, S.A., is the district’s new chairman and Gerry Richardson, CETEC Cereal Technologies, is now the district’s vice-chairman.

The Latin American district leadership is particularly excited about next year’s May 13-16 meeting at the Rosen Plaza Hotel and Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida, U.S., because it is an attractive location to the district’s members. Forty millers registered for this year’s district meeting, but they are expecting 150 in Orlando. WG

Eric Schroeder is managing editor for World Grain’s sister publication, Milling & Baking News. He may be contacted at