Take a plane, take a train, but if you work in the grain handling industry, you'll want to be in Kansas City, Missouri, U.S., during the last four days in February.
The 71st annual conference and trade show of the Grain Elevator and Processing Society will be held Feb. 26-29 at the Bartle Hall Convention Center in downtown Kansas City.
"The GEAPS Exchange is the best grain operations forum there is," said Tom DiGiorgio, director of operations and safety for The Scoular Co., Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., and GEAPS president for 2000-2001. "It is three and a half days of outstanding educational presentations, the best and largest trade show in the industry and the opportunity to network with others in our industry from all over the world."
GEAPS is an international professional association made up of individual members. Its focus is primarily on grain facility operations, safety and health concerns. Although GEAPS' membership is predominately located in North America, mostly in the U.S. and Canada, the group recently has focused on growing its membership around the world. For instance, GEAPS recently signed an agreement with APOSGRAN, a post-harvest grain organization in Argentina, to provide training materials that will be translated into Spanish and circulated throughout Latin America.
Mr. DiGiorgio, who has been involved with GEAPS since 1986, said the association strives to offer timely subjects and the "best possible speakers" on various topics.
Most of the speakers at this year's GEAPS conference work in the grain industry, either at a grain handling facility or for a supplier company. Educational sessions will be presented in the following categories: facility management, facility operations, grain handling and storage, international operations, interpersonal communication, nuts and bolts, and safety, health and environment.
Operations issues forums will include considerations for handling and storing genetically enhanced grains and complying with new OSHA regulations on confined-space entry and personnel implications for staffing rescue teams.
The Exchange Expo trade show has been sold out for months. More than 200 suppliers have reserved booth space for the trade show. Sosland Publishing Co., which publishes World Grain and Milling & Baking News, will again sponsor the Message Center.
Fred Norwood of Norwood & Co., Inc., Salina, Kansas, U.S., and the incoming president of GEAPS' associate membership, said that from an associates' point of view, attending the GEAPS conference was a must.
"The majority of our customers are here (at the conference) for educational purposes and to learn about new products and services," Mr. Norwood said. "For us, as their suppliers, it's a great opportunity to see a lot of our customer base, all in one spot."
He said he also was excited about the large registration of students at this year's conference. GEAPS is expecting a large student turnout because of proximity of a number of agricultural universities to Kansas City. The students hear presentations designed to "give them a taste of what grain industry is all about, and what opportunities await them in this industry," Mr. Norwood said.
The conference is a good learning experience, he added, "but we also have a lot of fun."