Milling operatives do have impact

by Emily Wilson
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People, through individual and group effort, should take the initiative to make a difference in a world that is constantly changing, said R. Bryce Seidl, president and chief executive officer, Fisher Mills, Inc., Seattle, Washington, U.S. Seidl delivered the keynote address, "Making a Difference," at the 2001 technical conference breakfast of the Association of Operative Millers, held May 19-22 at Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.

Seidl’s perspective as the AOM keynote speaker was unique to the extent that the flour milling company he has managed in recent years, Fisher Mills, was sold several weeks ago to a group led by Pendleton Flour Mills, Portland, Oregon, U.S.

"We are not just along for the ride," Seidl said. "Our industry and the whole world is confronted by relentless change. As is true in the stock market, in our world past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Each day every one of us has to commit to a course of action based on their best knowledge and their best judgement at the time and then wait for history to tell us if we were correct at that point."

Seidl discussed current challenges facing the industry, including consolidation and genetic modification, but encouraged millers to strive to make a difference.

"Ultimately, all we can do is make things better than they were when we came and the most lasting way to do that is to build the capability of our human capital. You won’t be remembered by anyone — co-workers, customers, shareholders — because you’ve made more flour than anyone else, you’ve built more capacity than anyone else, or you’ve bought more machinery than anybody else. You will be remembered perhaps for making more good flour than anyone else.

"You’re creating more value for your customers. You’re creating value for your shareholders. You’re treating your associates with dignity and respect. And you’ll be remembered for leaving your organization and its people stronger and more capable than when you arrived. In those ways you truly can make a difference."