GEAPS 2003 in Review

by Emily Buckley
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By Emily Buckley

The 74th Grain Elevator & Processing Society’s 2003 Exchange, held March 1-4 in Columbus, Ohio, U.S., was a time for "old-fashioned" networking among members. "That’s been and remains the heart and soul of GEAPS," said John Boswell, GEAPS 2002-2003 international president, at the annual opening brunch on March 2. "There’s a very personal dimension to this [GEAPS Exchange] resource."

More than 1,600 members and allied trades associates attended, with more than 200 exhibitors.

Boswell noted that one of the major accomplishments of the last year was the renewed focus of GEAPS’ vision to be the knowledge resource for the world of grain operations.

A Core Competencies Task Force identified seven areas that will serve as focus-points for GEAPS, including the management of: grain quality; grain handling equipment; grain handling systems and operations technology; facility operations; agribusiness environment; human resources; and property and casualty risk management.

Boswell said GEAPS is also working to strengthen relationships with other industry entities, such as the Association of Operative Millers, National Grain and Feed Association, ASPOGRAN of Argentina and Purdue University, to expand its resources for members.

If you were unable to make it to Columbus, GEAPS is making the 2003 Exchange proceedings — all 19 educational sessions — available in a bound volume with an accompanying CD. Even if you were there, the proceedings are a useful reference as many of the articles go more in depth than the oral presentations.

In the spotlight

In line with the organization’s ongoing commitment to safety, GEAPS again honored grain companies for their outstanding safety records last year. A total of 34 companies — representing 312 separate grain facilities — recorded more than 7.5 million employee hours without a lost-time injury or illness during 2002, which is a record for GEAPS’ safety program.

"These are meaningful accomplishments," said Gary Kearn, chairman of GEAPS’ Safety, Health & Environment Committee. "When you earn one… it really means something because safety does not just happen. It requires talent and commitment. It takes skill, knowledge, training and experience. It takes constant vigilance."

Also following in the tradition, Boswell passed the leadership torch to Roger Dowdy of Consolidated Grain & Barge Co., Illinois, beginning his term as 2003-2004 International President. Kevin Danner was elected International second vice president. Danner, corporate safety director for West Central Co-op, Ralston, Iowa, will become first vice president in 2004, and president in March 2005 to succeed current first vice president Wayne Bauer of Star of the West Milling Co., Michigan.

Directors elected to the International Board include Jeffrey Caskey, Mid-Oklahoma Co-op, Kingfisher, Oklahoma; Louis Peltier, ADM, Indianapolis, Indiana; and Wesley Ware, Effingham Equity, Effingham, Illinois.

GEAPS presented its Member of Distinction Award to Tom DiGiorgio, who was honored for "extraordinary contributions" advancing GEAPS’ mission. DiGiorgio is vice president of loss control and asset management at The Scoular Co., Omaha, Nebraska, and was GEAPS 2000-01 International President.

"Tom has been involved in literally dozens of GEAPS projects and initiatives for more than 15 years," said Boswell. "But he also brings a lot more to the table — intelligence, experience, purpose, hard work and integrity."

GEAPS also bestowed the Corbett Awards for extraordinary leadership contributions to both Dick Bigler, owner of Commodity Services Inc., Kansas City, Missouri, and Harmon Towne, vice president of engineering and product development at Brock Manufacturing, Milford, Indiana.

Bigler, a long-time leader in the Kansas City Chapter, is a specialist in treatment methods for grain preservation, insect control and preservation.

"His many years of real-life experience in the field — and on the road — have provided him with the sort of practical knowledge that can’t be duplicated," said GEAPS Associates 2002-03 President Tom Runyon. "He has a deep devotion to the industry, and has always gone the extra mile."

Runyon cited Towne’s far-ranging influence as an innovative designer of grain-storage and handling systems, as well as his commitment to industry safety. "He has worked tirelessly throughout his career to promote it," Runyon said, noting Towne’s work emphasizing safety in grain-bin entry, bin rescue, inspection, aeration, and loading and unloading.

The Associate membership of GEAPS, representing nearly 1,000 suppliers of equipment and services to the grain-handling industry, announced its 2003-2004 board of directors election results at GEAPS. Those newly elected to three-year terms to the Associates Board include: Ernest Percy, Tandem Products, Minnesota; David Toel, Younglove Construction Co., Iowa; Robert Schutte, United Oil, Idaho; and Allan Tedrow, Todd & Sargent, Iowa.

Craig Jakob of Hedley Technologies, Inc., Texas, replaced Runyon as Associates Board President. Associates Board Vice President Mike Spillum of Hi-Roller Conveyors will become 2004-05 President next March at GEAPS Exchange 2004.

Elected to a two-year director term was Colleen Johnson, H&M Contracting, filling the position vacated by Ted Stephens, who was elected Associates 2003-04 board secretary.