GEAPS Vancouver

by Chrystal Shannon
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The 73rd annual GEAPS Exchange moves outside U.S. borders for only the fifth time

The Grain Elevator and Processing Society’s Exchange 2002 will take place March 2-5 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It will be only the fifth time in 73 years that the Exchange has been held outside the United States.

That the other four occasions also were in Canada — Thunder Bay in 1937, Toronto in 1940, Winnipeg in 1974 and Vancouver in 1989 — speaks to the strong GEAPS membership in that country.

"We have some influential members up there," one GEAPS staff member said.

That this year’s Exchange is being held outside the U.S. also speaks to the group’s efforts to become a more international organization and its success in recent years boosting its membership beyond the U.S.

"When we refer to the GEAPS Exchange as an international technical conference and exposition, we’re not kidding," said Jim Voigt, vice-president of operations and engineering for Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Illinois, U.S., and GEAPS International president for 2001-2002.

"At Vancouver, we’ll have people from around the world — by last count more than 20 countries. We’re expecting grain operations professionals from the U.S., Canada, China, Japan, South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Russia, Taiwan, South Korea, Spain, England, France, Denmark, Greece, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela, Chile and Ecuador."

Voigt said that sort of global reach — of great potential benefit to Exchange delegates — is a result of two interlinking forces.

"One is the globalization of our industry," he said. "As the grain trade participates increasingly on the international playing field, GEAPS does, too — almost by default. But the second force is a deliberate attempt by GEAPS leaders to reach out.

"Because we know that there’s a lot we can learn from our peers and competitors abroad, we’ve worked very hard to broaden our horizons. We’ve been successful, too. In the past few years, the effort has placed GEAPS prominently on the map in three key countries — Argentina, Australia and Mexico.

"In Argentina, we’ve established a solid and enduring relationship with APOSGRAN, a GEAPS-like professional association. In Australia, we recently established formal ties with another grain industry group, NACMA. And in Mexico, I can say proudly that work is nearly complete on formation of GEAPS’ 33rd local chapter — the only one outside the U.S. and Canada."

As a result, all three of those countries will have sizable contingents participating at Exchange 2002, Voigt added.

He said that while GEAPS’ vision extends beyond North America, the group hasn’t lost sight of its core values or constituencies.

"We’re still all about safety in grain operations, quality, professionalism, education, networking and sharing information," Voigt said. "We still offer our members unique opportunities to grow personally and professionally.

"But in Vancouver, I can say without exaggeration that the opportunities will be global. We’ll be offering a world of expertise, and we hope that you can join us."

Vancouver grain facts:

•Vancouver is the leading port in Canada and North America for tonnage throughput, and the largest foreign tonnage port on the Pacific Coast. Bulk cargoes, including grain, account for more than 80% of annual throughput.

•"Grain" ranks second (behind coal) in the commodities shipped through the Port of Vancouver, totaling nearly 13 million tonnes in 2000. "Grain" includes wheat, barley, canola, flaxseed, oats, rye and other cereals.

•Vancouver has 17 terminals to handle a diversity of cargoes, including five major grain terminals. All have developed "direct-hit" capabilities (loading a ship directly from railcars) and have invested in new technology, such as computerized process control systems, railcar unloading facilities, dust control systems and grain cleaning systems.

•Japan is by far the leading destination for the port’s commodities, accounting for some 20 million tonnes in 2000. In comparison, the second-largest destination, South Korea, received nearly 8 million tonnes.