KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, US — With its second consecutive year in Kansas City, Missouri, US, the Grain Elevator and Processing Society’s (GEAPS) Exchange is expected to reach new attendance heights. 

“As of this morning, we are already well over 3,000 people registered, and with the number of walk ins we expect, we believe this will be the biggest show that we’ve ever had,” Steve Records, GEAPS executive director, told World Grain on Feb. 26. 

Exchange is scheduled in Kansas City through 2029. Several factors went into that decision, he said, including its central location for the industry. Having more people on the floor was the No. 1 request from exhibitors.

“Being here was kind of central to that,” said Records, who is leaving the organization at the end of March. “We also looked at what other organizations do. IPPE has been in the middle of January for forever. We want to model ourselves after that.”

Slideshow: GEAPS Exchange 2023 opens

Having the show at the same time in the same location makes it easier to advance GEAPS’ intention of bringing in global exhibitors and visitors.

“At the heart of our new mission is to connect the global industry,” Records said. “We do it well here; we’ve just never been intentional internationally.”

Being in the same location also allows GEAPS to try some different things, said Barb Grove, chair of the GEAPS board of directors. 

“Because we have a controlled setting, we can look at how do we keep spicing things up and keeping it fresh,” she said. 

For the first time last year, and again this year, the opening session featured a keynote speaker versus a technical presentation. It’s been a hit, with standing room only both years, Grove said. 

“That says we’re heading in the right direction,” she said, with a presentation that applies to everyone, no matter their career stage or position. “It’s the same for the closing sessions. Instead of four different tracks, there is one presentation where everyone can come together.”

Records noted that in his three-and-a-half years with the organization, he’s most proud of his work in making key changes to GEAPS.

“When I got here in 2019, the organization was 95 years old, so there were lots of really great things, but we had run into doing the exact same thing over and over and over again,” Records said. “We were still putting on a great show, but attendance had started to decline, and membership had been on a steep decline.”

Records and the board worked to put the mission — providing value to membership — back at the forefront. The result has been a surge in membership.

“The thing I’m proudest of is the changes we made to move from 1,700 members in 2019 to now over 3,000,” he said. “To see those changes be made, and to see them work, has been fantastic.”

An announcement about interim leadership will be announced by March 15, Grove said. From there, the board will be examining what the job description should be, she said.

“Chris Blair, GEAPS president, has challenged the board to say what could this look like,” Grove said. “We are not looking to have a quick turnaround because we want to have in place first what is the best fit of a person’s skills and a direction we want that person to go.” 

The direction of this year’s four-day gathering has been positive. GEAPS Exchange exhibitors said they were pleased with the amount of traffic through the Expo floor.

“This show has been busier than we expected, so we’re happy to see that,” said Mike Hand, vice president, North America commercial for AGI. “The customers we are talking to, they have a lot more projects on their plate than we might have anticipated.”

Johnny Wheat, president of 4B Components Ltd. USA, said the company had a fantastic show.

“There’s a lot of people here, a lot of people we know, customers that we see year on year, but a lot of new people as well,” he said. “There’s definitely a lot of interest in our new products.”