The return of the Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS) Exchange 2008 to Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. in grain country was a resounding success for the organization. The 79th annual educational conference and exposition, held Feb. 23-27, drew a record 2,380 delegates. The previous record was 2,262 set in 1997 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. The program also shattered records for expo-hall booth spaces, number of exhibitors (748) and the size of the education program. GEAPS cited being in the center of the North American Grain Belt as a main reason for the success. Hundreds of grain operations professionals were able to drive in to the show, stay for the day, and return home in the evening.
The Exchange 2008 education program was the largest in the event’s history. It featured more than 50 different speakers and offered 33 hours of focused presentations — all deliberately geared to topics of interest to professionals in the grain operations industry.
Once again, ethanol’s impact on the industry was of particular interest. The sessions focused on ethanol and its byproduct dried distiller’s grains (DDGS) by examining the global impact of the ethanol boom, storage and material-handling considerations for DDGS and whether or not it is ethical to use grains for ethanol at the expense of using grain for human consumption.
"It’s important to point out that this entire program was planned and organized by GEAPS volunteers, and every one of them is directly involved in grain operations as part of their job," said Kathy Reading, vice-chair of the Educational Programming Committee (EPC). "We select the topics and find the right speakers, and that’s why our program is so relevant."
This year GEAPS featured education pods in all four corners of the expo hall. GEAPS has decided to emphasize one overarching topic each year in the pod programming.
This year’s educational pods focused on equipment used to assess grain quality. The sessions covered dockage testers, image analysis, moisture meters, aflatoxin testers, Canadian grain inspection, U.S. grain inspection (corn and soybeans grading) and NIR protein analysis.
The pod concept was developed by the EPC in response to a suggestion by members at the 2004 Leadership Forum.
The idea is to take better advantage, for educational purposes, of equipment and expertise available in the expo hall.
Pod themes in subsequent years will be:
• 2009 — conveying equipment;
• 2010 — electrical safety in the workplace;
• 2011 — dust collection systems and maintenance;
• 2012 — process control and automation.
Mark Daniels, Cenex Harvest States, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., has started his duties as GEAPS international president. During his speech at the GEAPS Exchange, Daniels said he intends to emphasize GEAPS’ role linking members to other members.
"This link currently consists of newsletters, online information, chapter meetings, standing committees, conference calls, regional conferences, distance learning, Executive Advisory Council, operations management and technology seminars, membership directories, as well as the international technical conference," Daniels said.
"Each of these things exists for the sole purpose of facilitating the exchange of information that enables our regular members to perform their jobs in a safe and efficient manner and provides our associate members with an opportunity to better service their customers by seeing their needs first hand."
Daniels noted that GEAPS faces some tough decisions about whether to continue providing all of these modes of communication. Simply put, GEAPS has to decide if it can afford to maintain these services.
"In our quest to link members to members, we have stretched the capacity of our staff, our budget and our volunteer leaders," Daniels said. "Collectively, we have some tough decisions to make in our efforts to ensure that member access to quality programs and services is not compromised. At the same time we look for efficiencies in making that happen. I am convinced that the quality of the services GEAPS members have come to expect would not be compromised with some variations in the packaging."
Due to changing employment, Mike Myrick resigned his position as International Board of Directors chairman in early March. Following GEAPS leadership succession protocol, Tom Price, board chair in 2007-08, resumed his duties as chair.
Price, assistant vice-president at James Richardson International, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, agreed to serve out the 2008-09 term.
Board chair duties include chairmanship of the International Board Nominations and Marketing Oversight committees, as well as serving as a member of the Executive Committee.
Price, of the Canadian Prairies Chapter, was International President in 2006-07.
GEAPS also announced its new leaders and its Associate member leaders at the annual convention. It was announced that Rick Krier of the GEAPS Siouxland Chapter has been elected international second vice-president, putting him on the succession path to president.
Krier, a member for 10 years, becomes first vice-president in 2009 and president in 2010.
A GEAPS member since 1998, Krier is location manager and safety director for Western Iowa Co-op, Hornick, Iowa, U.S. He was elected to the International Board in 2005, and is currently Membership Committee chairman and a member of the Marketing Oversight Committee.
Results of GEAPS’ International Board of Directors election were also announced at the meeting.
Re-elected to a three-year term is Jeff Caskey, manager of operations for The Scoular Co., Ogden, Utah, U.S.
Chad J. Cook, northwest regional grain technician for Deseret Grain Storage, Burleigh, Idaho, U.S., and Stephen Tillery, operations manager for Attebury Grain Inc., Amarillo, Texas, U.S., were elected to first terms on the board.
The board plays a major role in determining what programs and services GEAPS provides to advance the industry, according to the organization’s strategic plan.
GEAPS’ associate members elected the following individuals to three-year terms on the Associates Board:
• Tom Pruess, Mill & Elevator Supply Co./Rubber Belting & Hose;
• Dan Vis, Hi Roller Conveyors;
• Jim Rogers, WAM USA Inc.;
• Nelson Wagner, Brock Grain Systems.
Steve Schmitt of T.E. Ibberson Co. was elected secretary at the meeting.
Steve Ginter, marketing manager for grain systems products with Chief Agri/Industrial Division, Kearney, Nebraska, U.S., became 2008-09 Associates Board president, and Craig Jones, a sales representative, Tramco, Inc., Wichita, Kansas, U.S., will become Associates 2009-10 Board President next February at Exchange 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.