Q&A with GEAPS executive vice-president

by Holly Demaree-Saddler
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GEAPS Exchange 2017 ribbon cutting ceremony
Marcus Neal, president of GEAPS International, cuts the ribbon to open GEAPS Exchange 2017.
Photo by Susan Reidy.
 
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, U.S. – For 91 years, the Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS) has worked alongside the grain storage and processing industry to help educate its members as the industry continues to change. World Grain recently spoke with David Krejci, executive vice-president of GEAPS, to get his thoughts on the past, present and future of the grain storage and processing industry and GEAPS role in supporting the education of the industry.

WG: With almost a century of history beginning in 1927, how has GEAPS continued to keep its education training opportunities up to date with the changing industry?

 

David Krejci GEAPS executive VP
David Krejci, executive vice-president of GEAPS

Krejci: GEAPS is and has always been member-driven and member-led at all levels, so all programs are responsive to member interests and needs. GEAPS leaders have also developed and support an ongoing outreach dialogue with member employers to help ensure GEAPS programs and resources are and remain aligned with the best interests of individual operations professionals and employer needs for a well-trained workforce.

WG: What are some of the biggest challenges the grain storage and processing industry is facing today and how is GEAPS helping address those challenges?

Krejci: The challenge GEAPS is focused on is the grain and oilseeds supply-chain infrastructure’s continual and increasingly complex need to maintain a well-trained workforce. GEAPS resources are fully committed to advancing pursuit of the vision: to be THE knowledge resource for the world of grain handling and processing industry operations. All of our programs and resources are responsive to principles GEAPS members have defined as core competencies and values:

Core Competencies:

  • Agri-business environment and management practice: involving economics, finances, purchasing, origination, marketing, customer and community relations, and ethics;
  • Equipment management: involving equipment types, specifications, installation, performance, operation, diagnostics, maintenance, and repair;
  • Facilities maintenance and design: involving equipment operation and maintenance, sanitation and pest control, energy systems, automation, facilities planning and design and project management;
  • Facility operations management: involving project analysis, planning, and execution, construction management, grain receiving, handling and shipping management, housekeeping, operational efficiency, energy use, transportation and logistics;
  • Human resources management: involving employee recruitment and retention, supervision, teamwork, performance evaluation, written and oral communication, and professional development; and
  • Process flow operations: involving equipment types, specifications, sizing and installation, process flow and system analysis and optimization, grain preparation, particle size reduction and segregation and product packaging and load out
  • Property and casualty risk management: involving risk analysis, evaluation, abatement and control, emergency preparedness and response, regulatory compliance, security, and insurance.
  • Quality management: involving quality definition, determination, preservation and assurance;
  • Systems and operations technology management: involving integrated equipment for materials handling, automation, sensors, controls, computers, system analysis, and process optimization;

Core Values:

  • Operations efficiency
  • Operations information that is credible and trusted
  • Operations professional networking on a local and global scale
  • Operations safety
  • Operations solutions that are innovative, effective and practical
  • Operations sustainability and environmental responsibility
  • Operations technical and leadership professionalism
  • Operations work life and work product quality

 

WG: As an international organization, are there any regions GEAPS is working to expand into?

Krejci: Strategically GEAPS views potential for expanding its member network from a grain and oilseed supply-chain logistics perspective; an extrapolation in organic growth tracing back to Great Lakes shipping ports and inland grain handling terminals and transportation hubs. GEAPS’ growth in scope and reach is driven by the member network, wherever those professional connections lead.

grain dust explosion
 
WG: Employee safety is such an important issue. How is GEAPS helping educate its members to prevent grain engulfment and grain dust explosion incidents?

Krejci: Operations safety is both a core professional competency and value. Grain entrapment prevention and response are critical risk management considerations. The topics are embedded in our continuing education and operations credentialing programs. Specific examples include:

GEAPS/Kansas State University Distance Education Program:

  • GEAPS 500: Introduction to Grain Operations
  • GEAPS 501: Management Basics for Grain Facility Supervisors: Understanding Key Roles and Responsibilities
  • GEAPS 541: Developing an Effective Safety Culture at Your Company
  • GEAPS 545: Grain Entrapment: Causes, Prevention and Rescue

GEAPS Exchange is an annual international technical conference and exposition. Grain operation safety management is a perennial core education program component to include grain entrapment and related topics. Beginning with Exchange 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., a grain entrapment prevention and rescue training live demonstration will become a permanent feature of the exposition. 

GEAPS Chapters: Many GEAPS chapters have hosted grain entrapment prevention and rescue training live demonstrations. The April 9-13 National Standup for Grain Entrapment Prevention organized by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and National Grain and Feed Association Alliance with which GEAPS is a collaborator, was inspired by and modeled after an OSHA alliance last year initiated by the Kansas-centered GEAPS’ Great Plains Chapter.

GEAPS online education course
GEAPS and KSU work together to offer many courses including online courses.
 
WG: GEAPS has partnered with KSU in the past. What are some of the benefits of the partnership and are you exploring any additional partnerships in the future?

Krejci: The GEAPS+KSU professional development program partnership has been in place since 2008. The partnership is a platform and process for engaging the best available subject matter experts in the development of world-class education and training resources. Our business model is to seek attributed collaboration with individuals, institutions and organizations where there is a shared interest with the overall mission being responsive to the best professional development interests of the grain handling and processing industry. Current initiatives include exploration of collaboration with the American Feed Industries Association and International Association of Operative Millers. We have also explored collaboration with the University of Arkansas Rice Milling Program. Beyond institution and organization collaboration, diversity and inclusion of program content development is achieved by subject-matter experts representing many universities and well as operation industry technical and management professionals.

WG: With a rise of employee substance use and abuse, what is the main lesson you hope attendees will take away from the substance abuse workshop at the GEAPS Exchange 2018?

Krejci: Substance use and abuse is one of the many critical risk management considerations with respect to operations safety and workforce welfare. Not unlike any other safety and welfare issue, our objective is to ensure operations management professional are aware of and have access to the best available information for developing and implementing effectively-responsive operations policies and practices.

WG: How is the GEAPS foundation working to support the industry’s only professional credentialing program?

Krejci: The GEAPS Foundation was established to provide financial support for GEAPS professional development programs. The Foundation goal is to establish and manage allocation of endowments sufficient to ensure a reliable source of funding for investment in program development. The fundraising goal is a $4 million endowment.

The Foundation fundraising depends on the volunteer contributions of industry leaders, employers, operations solutions providers and related industry organizations and other stakeholders. We are more than halfway to reaching our endowment-fund goal.

GEAPS KSU HOT
Instructors and participants in the GEAPS–KSU Hands-On-Training (HOT) Program stand on the platform of the bucket elevator on KSU’s Grain Science Complex and discuss the function and maintenance of the equipment. 
Photos courtesy of KSU.
 
WG: In December 2017, GEAPS introduced the new Hands-On Training (HOT) Program. How did the first 2 ½ day program proceed? Is GEAPS going to evolve or make changes to the program?

Krejci: The initial HOT course offering was a tremendous success. While course enrollment sold out with a cap of 30 participants established to ensure all participants had real hands-on experience.

Based on the evaluations, participant feedback and end-of-course interview with instructors, the HOT program was received very well as suggested by participants’ willingness to refer others to participate in future HOT courses. Instructors indicated a clear interest in continued involvement with the HOT program.

Plans for the next HOT course offering this December are well underway. As with all our programs, continual improvement is most responsive to student and instructor input and feedback.

WG: The GEAPS Exchange has been growing both in terms of attendance and number of expo exhibitors in recent years. What has been the key to success in that area?

Krejci: We view the key to be basic and uncomplicated: deliver a world-class professional development and networking experience. Features include nearly 40 hours of best-in-class continuing education and the world’s largest and most comprehensive exposition of equipment, service and technology solutions focused specifically on grain handling and processing facility operations.

grain
 
WG: What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen both in the industry and in the organization since you became chief staff executive in 1988?
Krejci: I have been involved in grain industry operations since 1970 and came to work for GEAPS in 1982 as director of technical services. I was appointed in 1988 as GEAPS chief staff executive. With nearly 50 years of hindsight perspective, it’s difficult to single out any specific thing as “biggest.” The significant change is the evolution of the “how” of the grain handling and processing industry operations, not the “what.” That change is unceasing, increasing in pace and complexity. The “what” remains continual improvement in the safety, efficiency and sustainability of a safe and reliable food supply chain. While only a recent slogan, feeding the future has always been “what” of grain and oilseed supply-chain operations.

WG: Gert-Jan van den Akker, president of Cargill’s agricultural supply chain division, commented at the Financial Times global summit earlier this month that farmers are cutting out the middle man or grain storage facilities. Is this going to become a common practice? How do you foresee this affecting your membership base?

Krejci: Reflecting on my previous response, I view that evolution as a “how” change, not a “what” change. Farmers are grain and oilseed handlers and intrinsically part of the supply of the supply chain. The relevance and value of GEAPS programs and services is a matter of scalability independent of business model or geography. With respect to GEAPS membership impact, I view that evolution as a creating huge upside potential for expanding the scope and reach of GEAPS as a knowledge resource.
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