GEAPS Exchange 2014

by Arvin Donley
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With the 2014 Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS) Exchange being held in the heart of the U.S. Corn Belt, in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., event organizers were anticipating a large turnout. They weren’t disappointed as 3,379 delegates attended the Exchange, shattering the previous attendance record of 2,727 set in 2012 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.

The event, held Feb. 22-25 at the CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha, featured delegates and exhibitors from 20 countries and 400 companies utilizing 684 booth spaces at the Expo. The Expo was sold out for the ninth straight year.

One of the exhibitors, Chief Agri/Industrial, Kearney, Nebraska, U.S., was showcasing its new commercial CD Dryers, which feature touchscreen operations, easy installation, reduced maintenance and reduced dust emissions and noise pollution.

“We could put this in downtown Omaha … it’s that quiet,” said Jeff Schmidt, district sales manager for Chief. “You could easily have a conversation right next to it and not have to raise your voice.”

Like most exhibitors at GEAPS, Schmidt said business had been brisk in recent months, even though the price of corn has dropped to around $4 per bushel.

“That’s kind of limited a few things, but it’s also inspired some people that didn’t build last year,” he said. “There wasn’t much carryover from last year’s crop so people are jumping ahead right now.”

Christian Jordan, vice-president of international sales at Lambton Conveyor Ltd.,Wallaceburg, Ontario, Canada, said his company had also enjoyed strong sales, particularly in Asia, Latin America and South America. Lambton was promoting its new 90-foot-diameter commercial bins during the Expo.

“In addition to our new commercial bins we also do roofing lines, our own flooring lines, catwalks, towers, so now we are basically offering a complete system,” Jordan said.

Gary Anderson, president and CEO of Ag Growth International, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, was pleased by the large turnout at GEAPS. Ag Growth in recent years has acquired a number of grain handling companies in North America, including Tramco, Union Iron, Airlanco and Hi Roller, which were all represented at this year’s GEAPS.

“This event is really important in terms of bringing so many of our customers and our own team all together at one time,” he said. “We know that on an annual basis we have this opportunity. It’s a great venue for seeing not only our customers, but all our own people from our various divisions.”

About 30 feed science and milling science majors from Kansas State University made the three-hour trip north from Manhattan, Kansas, U.S. to take part in the GEAPS Exchange.

Carlos Campabadal, program specialist in grain storage and feed manufacturing in Kansas State’s Department of Grain Science and Industry, said one of the reasons that GEAPS benefits students studying feed milling and flour milling is that they can become so focused on the milling that it can be easy to overlook the importance of grain handling and storage prior to milling. He said some of the students attended sessions focusing on the grain storage and handling issues.

Students were also encouraged to visit the booths of grain storage and handling suppliers to learn about the new equipment that the industry is offering.

“A lot of companies here have donated equipment to our flour and feed mill facilities and it’s always good for us to come here and thank them for their help,” Campabadal said.

President’s speech

New GEAPS International President Jim Jundt, commodities manager, Pacific Ethanol Columbia LLC, Boardman, Oregon, U.S., talked about his goals for 2014-15 during his inauguration speech.

He said working to meet the organization’s four strategic direction priority initiatives (SDPI) will be a top priority. The goal of the first initiative is to further increase and enhance the opportunities for professional development through the Exchange expo.

“A first step is to review our policies and procedures to identify any barriers to achieving our goal,” Jundt said. “Members themselves are a great professional development resource, but that resource is only maximized when people connect with each other, share ideas with each other, and engage with each other in discovery of best practices and solutions to the operations challenges we have in common.”

The goal of the second initiative is to increase the ways for GEAPS members to do this as well as encourage them to do so.

“One way we can do that is by exploring the opportunities to create mentoring groups or communities of members with like interests to better facilitate the sharing of knowledge and information,” Jundt said.

He said professional development is a top priority for GEAPS, and this is accomplished through distance education, the Exchange chapters, webinars and networking.

“The goal of the third initiative is to make our world-class knowledge development system more efficient and the programs we produce more accessible to increase the ways that people can experience our high quality material in support of our credentialing program,” he said. “For example, over the next year we’ll continue building plans to offer qualified continuing education programming across all of GEAPS professional development platforms.”

The final initiative is to help ensure that chapters can provide maximum assistance to their members by providing programming assistance, helping chapter boards function more strategically, and developing business operations tools.

“One specific way we’re working on this is by looking at ways to repurpose our professional development program content created at the international level – like through our distance education program or Exchange – and make it available to members through their chapter,” Jundt said.

Pre-conference workshop

A three-hour pre-conference workshop focused on the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was held Sunday morning, Feb. 23, with 215 people in attendance.

Workshop presenters, including David Fairfield, vice-president of Feed Services at the National Grain & Feed Association (NGFA), made it clear that FSMA, signed into law in January, represents a major and historic change in U.S. food safety regulations, shifting from a more reactive approach, to a comprehensive system intended to prevent problems before they can occur.

Precisely how FSMA will affect the grain storage and animal feed industries won’t be known fully until final rules are published. Furthermore, exemptions from some of the more onerous rules may still be possible, he said. However, Fairfield added FSMA would have a major impact for decades to come as grain and feed companies are compelled to comply.

The workshop presenters, including Dr. Angela Shaw of Iowa State University and John Mueller, co-owner of Food Protection Services, Carmel, Indiana, U.S., urged the attendees to inform themselves about FSMA and its terminology, and begin preparing. Shaw provided an update on current mandates, and Mueller offered advice on how companies might be able to break down the sweeping scale of compliance obligations into smaller, manageable strategies.

More than 300 Exchange participants listened to 11 short presentation featuring products and services new to the grain industry, as well as another discussing an innovative grain engulfment rescue training unit developed by South Dakota Wheat Growers. Hundreds more attended the 21 educational workshops offered throughout the conference on topics ranging from fumigation of stored grain to best practices in facility design and property and risk casualty management.

New Leaders

Each year GEAPS members nominate and select directors and officers to represent them on the International Board of Directors.

GEAPS members elected Marcus Neal, director of facility operations, Lansing Trade Group, LLC, to the position of 2014-15 second vice-president.

Elected to three-year terms as international directors for 2014-15 were: Barbara Grove, quality systems manager, Farmway Coop; Kris Smelser, Northern Montana Regional Manager for MillerCoors; and Buzz Tourangeau, Net Work operations manager, Tate & Lyle, Inc.

Elected to a two-year term as international director was Jacob Elder, manager, Perdue AgriBusiness Salisbury Grain Terminal.

The GEAPS Associates board of directors also met to announce and ratify the results of their election.

Four people were elected to three-year terms as Associate directors. They were: Colin McClure, president, PMI Nebraska LLC; Todd Morey, sales manager, Airlanco; Wade Spencer, business development manager, Maxi-Lift, Inc.; Darren Zink, strategic accounts manager, Brock Grain Systems.

Corbett Award

Grain Journal Publisher Mark Avery received GEAPS’ Corbett Award, the association’s highest award for distinguished volunteer leadership in representing the best interests of Associate members.

Avery was recognized for extraordinary engagement in volunteer leadership service to his GEAPS chapter and the international organization. He has served in various roles in the organization including chapter board director to GEAPS Associates Board president as well as Chapter Resource Committee member.

“It is clear Mark Avery has always been engaged and willing to be a leader,” said Bob Klare, GEAPS Associates Board 2014-15 President. “The amount of time and energy that he has expended on behalf of GEAPS is both remarkable and extremely admirable. We are truly honored to have had such an influential industry professional give so much of himself to GEAPS.”

2013 Safety Awards announced at GEAPS Exchange

At the GEAPS Exchange 2014, during the general session, GEAPS honored 32 companies and 442 facilities as part of the 2013 Safety Awards Program. These companies and facilities completed 2013 without any lost-time work-related injury or illness.

The following list indicates companies and the number of facilities that did not record a work-related lost-time injury or illness in 2013:

Agrex Inc. (2 facilities)
Alabama Farmers Cooperative (1 )
Arizona Grain Inc. (3)
Bunge-SCF Grain LLC (2)
Bunge Canada (6)
Bunge Grain of Canada Inc. (5)
Bunge North America (66)
Cargill AgHorizons (96)
Cargill Grain & Oilseeds (4)
Cargill Ltd. (54)
CHS Inc. (1)
Control Stuff Inc. (1)
Farmers Grain Terminal (9)
Gavilon Grain LLC (70)
Lansing Trade Group (10)
Latty Grain Ltd. (1)
Louis Dreyfus Commodities (2)
McCormick Construction Inc. (1)
Mennel Milling Company (2)
MillerCoors LLC (6)
Molinos Bunge SA de CV (1)
Perdue AgriBusiness (16)
Perdue Grain & Oilseed (11)
PMI Iowa LLC (1)
Riceland Foods Inc. (26)
Silotrans S.R.L. (1)
Structural Restoration, Inc. (1)
The Scoular Co. (34)
The DeLong Company Inc. (11)
West Central (16)
WindRiver Grain LLC (1)
Zen-Noh Grain Corp (1)
GEAPS also honored companies and facilities with extended records of achievement in safety. These awards went to the top five facilities, measured through the years in terms of cumulative hours without lost-time injury or illness.

Winners honored at the Exchange were:

First place: Farmers Grain Terminal, Greenville, Mississippi, U.S. (1,380,087 hours)
Second place: Cargill Gain & Oilseed Houston Export Elevator, Houston, Texas, U.S. (1,238,616)
Third place: Bunge Canada 
Harrowby, Russell, Manitoba, Canada (1,216,991)
Fourth place: Cargill AgHorizons, Tuscola, Illinois, U.S. (1,156,432)
Fifth place: Bunge North America, Delphos, Ohio, U.S. (1,052,608)
Honors in another category – the top five facilities in terms of consecutive years they’ve received a GEAPS Safety Award – went to:

First place: Bunge North America DeSoto Landing facility, Arkansas City, Arkansas, U.S. (35 years)
Second place: Bunge North America Fountain Bluff facility, Grand Tower, Illinois, U.S. (31 years)
Third place: Cargill AgHorizons facility, Tipton, Indiana, U.S. (28 years)
Fourth place: Bunge North America facilities in Huffman, Arkansas and LaGrange, Missouri, (each with 27 years)
Fifth place: Cargill Grain & Oilseeds Albany Hudson River Terminal, Albany, New York and Bunge North America facility, Newport, Arkansas (each with 25 years)
Next Stop: St. Louis

The 2015 GEAPS Exchange will be held Feb. 21-24 at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. GEAPS officials said the main expo hall is already sold out for next year and the annex is starting to fill up. The Exchange was last held in St. Louis in 2009.