The 'heart of the grain industry' to gather in Tampa

by Teresa Acklin
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   The world of grain is like a small planet, says Serge Momus, “where people and technologies cross borders daily.”

   Mr. Momus, who works for Tripette & Renaud, a French manufacturer of Chopin laboratory equipment for measuring wheat and flour quality, said he discovered this when he attended his first GEAPS Exchange last year in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. “GEAPS Exchange might well be the heart of this planet, and I decided to cross the ocean to feel the beat,” he said.

   This year the heart of the grain industry will meet in Tampa, Florida, U.S., for the 70th annual International Technical Conference and Exposition of the Grain Elevator and Processing Society. The event, which will be from March 6-9, attracts all aspects of the grain and milling industry worldwide.

   Mr. Momus said the conference gives his company a chance to meet with its U.S. distributor, Seedburo, and establish relationships with U.S. companies who wish to distribute their products in Europe. Tripette & Renaud is the exclusive supplier of Tapco products in Europe.

   For Bruce Radley of Louis Dreyfus, Wilton, Connecticut, U.S., this year's GEAPS conference will present an opportunity to introduce several of the company's new grain managers in Canada to the larger industry. “When Dreyfus played a major role in handling domestic grains, GEAPS was an important part of our business,” Mr. Radley said. “Our Canadian operations people will benefit from the information and technology available not only at the conference but throughout the year.”

   Some persons go to GEAPS Exchange for the technical sessions. Others go to see new products and meet suppliers. Some simply want to network with others in the industry.

   “It's a responsibility we have to gather as much working knowledge and information pertaining to operations in order to appropriately multiply ourselves through our fellow workers, providing a sound, safe and economical environment in which to work,” said C.L. (Charlie) Regini, general manager, agri-bulk and barge facilities, for Georgia Ports Authority, Savannah, Georgia, U.S. The Ports Authority operates an agri-bulk terminal at the Port of Brunswick and inland barge faciltities at Bainbridge and Columbus, Georgia, U.S.

   The GEAPS conference regularly attracts persons who are new to the industry.

   “This will be my first opportunity as a new member to interface with people in the industry,” said Larry Park, technical service manager for C.J. Schneider Engineering, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. “In our company, I am responsible for this segment of the business. I hope to attend some of the sessions and learn as much as possible while there. Of course, there is always the potential of playing a few rounds of golf.”

   Linda Edgington of Staley Grain, Wapella, Illinois, U.S., is a newcomer to the grain industry and to GEAPS. She said she has met many interesting people and has learned much from local chapter meetings. “I look forward to meeting new people from other chapters, learning at the workshops and seeing new equipment at Tampa,” she said.

   Peter Myatt, general manager of the Great Lakes Elevator Co. Ltd., Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada, also is a new GEAPS member. “I've enjoyed the regional meetings so much that the international meeting can only be that much better,” he said. “Not to mention the family aspect of Tampa Bay and the chance to meet other GEAPS members.”

   The conference also attracts hundreds of suppliers to the Expo floor. Gene Castellano of Arch Environmental Equipment, Paducah, Kentucky, U.S., was one of those honored at last year's “What's New” session, which introduces new products and services to the industry. “The response from so many attendees to our booth afterwards was fantastic,” Mr. Castellano said.

   He added that GEAPS Exchange was “an excellent opportunity to see old friends, make new ones and network. Leo Gebhart of J.A. Gebhart and Associates, Inc., Salina, Kansas, U.S., said this will be his 18th GEAPS conference. “I plan on going to Tampa for the purpose of promoting the products that our company markets and do some sightseeing,” Mr. Gebhardt said.

   This will be the first year he will go to the conference as a supplier, however. After a 36-year career in the grain industry, primarily as an elevator superintendent and manager, Mr. Gebhardt started his own company in February 1997, which supplies grain fumigant and hopper car seals.

   “You meet just about everybody there,” he said of the annual GEAPS conference. “A lot of good contacts are made by going to the convention.”