Perfect weather, a full and diverse lineup of educational sessions and a record number of exhibitors highlighted the GEAPS Exchange 2016 Feb. 28-March 1 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, U.S.

The annual event attracted 2,852 attendees from 28 countries, the third highest attendance ever, and a record 412 exhibitors took part in the expo, topping the previous mark of 400 at the Exchange 2014 in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.

Because of the recent growth – the last three Exchange’s have been the best attended in the event’s 87-year history – the decision was made to extend the expo time by an hour this year.

“Overall the changes were well received,” said GEAPS Associates Board President Jeff Roumph. “With the growth of the expo in recent years, it made a lot of sense to offer more time to meet with the exhibitors.”

Ag Growth International (AGI), Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, had a large display at the expo featuring new conveyors, bin sweeps and other equipment manufactured for the grain industry.

“Our company is broadly split into farm and commercial divisions, and GEAPS Exchange is really about our commercial customers,” said Dan Donner, senior vice-president for sales and marketing of AGI, which in recent years has acquired longtime manufacturers of grain handling equipment such as Tramco, Union Ironworks, Airlanco and Hi Roller.

He said while a recent slump in grain prices has led to a slowdown in business on the farm side, the company’s commercial business has remained strong. “For commercial agriculture companies, such as the grain traders and the processors, there’s a long gestation period with a lot of their capital projects, so they tend to keep moving forward with them through the up and down economic cycles,” he said. “They are probably a little sharper right now when looking for pricing on a project and looking for solutions to save them money, but for the most part people in this industry are pretty stable and they proceed with projects.”

Donner noted 26% of AGI’s business is now from outside of North America, up from 5% in 2008 when it embarked upon a series of acquisitions. He said in addition to posting strong sales in North America, the company has also enjoyed recent success in Latin America, Southeast Asia and even Eastern Europe, which has seen military conflict between the major grain producing countries of Russia and Ukraine.

“Despite that conflict, we are still doing good business there,” he said.

Behlen Manufacturing Co., a grain bin manufacturer based in Columbus, Nebraska, U.S., was displaying its patent-pending temporary storage product as a cost-effective solution for another bin-busting corn and soybean harvest that is expected in North America in 2016.

“We have one panel high and two panel high temporary storage systems that we’re just unveiling here at the show,” said Kirk Nelson, sales manager for Behlen. “These panels are a little bit longer, and we’re using a few more supports than other temporary storage systems use.”

Educational program

The GEAPS Exchange Educational Program continued to expand, with 41.5 hours of programming featuring 55 speakers at this year’s event. An opening workshop on Feb. 27 examined changes to the Food Safety and Modernization Act.

One of GEAPS’ recent goals was to engage the processing sectors of the grain industry, and this year’s educational program included an entire track on processing operations management, including a presentation on the processing of malting barley.

“We are seeing more and larger exhibits at the Exchange featuring operations solutions specific to grain and processing and alike,” said GEAPS International President Matt Kerrigan. “Much like NC-213, which regularly joins our conference, we are also excited that the International Oil Mill Superintendents Association will be co-locating its annual conference with GEAPS Exchange beginning in 2018 in Denver.”

He also noted that GEAPS plans to offer a new online processing course this fall through Kansas State University – Interpretation of Process Flow Diagrams – and is in the development stage of another course called Overview of Milling Principles.

Kerrigan, whose presidency ends in July, said GEAPS is doing a good job of meeting its biggest challenge: predicting and aligning the organization with the evolution and future needs of the supply chain to drive sustainability, safety and efficiency in infrastructure operations.

“I’ve been fortunate to lead GEAPS during a time of tremendous growth in all our programs areas,” he said. “The challenge is always anticipating what the industry needs will look like in three to five years and making sure that the organization is positioned well financially, led competently and staffed appropriately to ensure that we continue to be a trusted and relevant knowledge resource for the grain handling and processing industry.”

International Members of Distinction

Two members received one of the organization’s highest honors during the banquet on March 1 as Rick Fifer, 4B Components, a member of the Cornbelt chapter, and Bill Jefferson, Messick & Gray Inc., of the Mid-Atlantic chapter, were both named International Members of Distinction.

“Fifer is a true ambassador and a natural leader people respond to,” Kerrigan said.

Jefferson said he was “humbled” by the recognition. “It’s an honor to receive this award, especially considering some the industry professionals who have received it in the past.”

GEAPS said the award goes to members who have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of GEAPS’ Vision and Mission. These members have demonstrated volunteer leadership qualities that epitomize GEAPS’ core values of excellence and innovation in operations safety, health, environmental responsibility, efficiency and stored-grain quality preservation, the organization said.

Going to Kansas City

The 2017 GEAPS Exchange will be Feb. 25-28 at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, U.S. For more information, visit

2015 Safety Awards announced at GEAPS Exchange

At the GEAPS Exchange 2016, during the general session, GEAPS honored 439 facilities at 34 companies as part of the 2015 Safety Awards Program. These companies and facilities completed 2015 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 2015:

Agrex Inc. (2 facilities)
Angelina Grain (1)
Arizona Grain Inc. (2)
Bunge SCF Grain, LLC (2)
Bunge Canada (6)
Bunge Mexico (7)
Bunge North America (61)
Cargill AgHorizons (89)
Cargill Grain & Oilseeds (4)
Cargill Horizons Canada (57)
Cargill Inc. (2)
CHS Inc. (1)
Control Stuff Inc. (1)
EGT, LLC (3)
Farmers Grain Terminal (8)
Food Protection Services (1)
General Mills Inc. (2)
Knobelsdorff Electric Inc. (1)
Louis Dreyfus Commodities (2)
MillerCoors LLC (8)
Molinos Bunge SA de CV (1)
Painters USA Inc. (1)
Perdue Agribusiness (12)
Perdue Grain & Oilseed (26)
Riceland Foods Inc. (15)
Silotrans SRL (1)
Structural Restoration Inc. (1)
The Andersons Inc. (25)
The DeLong Company (14)
The Scoular Co. (35)
Wear Concepts Inc. (1)
West Central (17)
Wheat Growers (28)
WindRiver Grain LLC (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: Bunge North America, Atchison, Kansas, U.S. (1,896,583 hours)
Second place: Bunge North America OVC, Morrisontown, Indiana, U.S. (1,875,016 hours)
Third place: Farmers Grain Terminal, Greenville, Mississippi, U.S. (1,647,106 hours)
Fourth place: Cargill Grain & Oilseeds, Westwego, Louisiana, U.S. (1,618,230 hours)
Fifth place: Bunge North America, Decatur, Alabama, U.S. (1,597,926 hours
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, Arkansas, U.S. (37 years)
Second place: Bunge North America, Grand Tower, Illinois, U.S. (33 years)
Third place: Cargill, Tipton, Indiana, U.S. (30 years)
Fourth place (tie): Bunge North America, Blytheville, Arkansas, U.S., LaGrange, Missouri, U.S., and Yazoo City, Mississippi (29 years)
Fifth place: Bunge North America, Tallulah, Louisiana, U.S. (26 years)