GEAPS 2017 ribbon cutting
The event featured 270,000 square feet of space in the Expo Hall, and more than 40 hours of education.  
Photo by Susan Reidy.
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, U.S. – It was another record setting year for the Grain Elevator and Processing Society’s (GEAPS) annual Exchange, which returned to the U.S. Midwest and Kansas City, Missouri, U.S., the last week of February.

Exchange 2017 set a record for highest attendance at 3,589 and most exhibitors at 438. The event featured 270,000 square feet of space in the Expo Hall, and more than 40 hours of education. 

The event surpasses other record setting years, also from U.S. Midwestern locations, including Omaha, Nebraska, in 2014 at 3,379 attendees and St. Louis, Missouri, in 2015 with 3,215 attendees.

GEAPS International President Marcus Neal, Lansing Trade Group, said he was impressed with several outcomes from the conference.

“Exchange 2017 was a terrific success on many fronts,” Neal said. “The record breaking Expo is very exciting because it shows that suppliers are finding credible leads and returning year after year, and attendees are finding equipment and solutions to improve operations at their facilities. We saw terrific attendance at our education sessions. This event also provides an opportunity for GEAPS leaders to meet and make connections with grain companies, and learn how we can refine our programs to provide more value to the grain industry. “

GEAPS Associates Board President Colin McClure, PMI Nebraska, said the growth in the Expo is due in part to companies realizing the array of opportunities presented at the conference.

“The Exchange offers a lot of opportunities to see decision makers,” McClure said. “The Expo puts your products in the best place for industry operations people can see them. There are also a number of opportunities to form and reinforce business relationships at the networking events. “

Cheryl Lansink, Comco, said one of the biggest reasons for the growth in the Expo in recent year is the variety of equipment companies are bringing.

“Exhibitors have been bringing more equipment in the past few years, and that has led to companies sending more operations people to attend the Expo,” Lansink said. “Attendees are able to see and interact with more equipment. You can learn a lot more about suppliers at the Expo than you can on the internet.”

Lansink also said more companies are bringing additional booth workers to meet attendees in the Expo Hall.

Along with the Expo and education opportunities, GEAPS Exchange included the presentation of three awards during the President’s Banquet on Feb. 28. Deb Good, Brock Grain Systems, Cornbelt Chapter, received the Corbett Award, while Jim Coder, Control Stuff Inc., and Wayne Bauer, Star of the West Milling, were honored with Industry Leader awards.

Good has served in the grain industry for 44 years, and has been an associate member of GEAPS since 1995.

“When I detassled corn in Mason City, Illinois, in the late 60s, I vowed that I would not choose a career that had anything to do with corn, bugs, and the like,” Good said. “I never imagined that I would be at this podium. Receiving the highest associate peer acknowledgment, the Corbett Award, is extremely humbling.”

Good attended her first Exchange in 1996 in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., and joined the Exchange Educational Programming Committee (EPC) shortly after. She served on the committee for 20 years. She also served on the Associates board of directors, the International Executive Committee, GEAPS Foundation Governing Board and Exchange Host Advisory Council. She was the second female president of the Associates board.

She said she is particularly proud of some of the projects she worked on with the EPC, including the creation of the Expo Pods and expansion of the overall education program.

“Deb started in the industry in the 80s and worked her way up to become a district sales manager, a position she held for 30 years,” said Colin McClure, GEAPS Associates board president, in presenting the award. “This was a time period when we had very few women in positions of leadership or management. Deb helped pave the way for many others in the grain handling, processing and storage industry. Her leadership and involvement in all aspects of GEAPS make her very deserving of this award.”

The Corbett award is given to Associate members who have demonstrated extraordinary volunteer leadership on behalf of all Associate members in the pursuit of GEAPS’ mission and achievement of its general objectives.

The Industry Leader Award gives special recognition to individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of operations safety, health, environmental responsibility, efficiency and stored grain quality preservation excellence in the grain handling and processing industry.

Coder, Control Stuff Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., said he shares the leadership award with his family and owners, employees, associates and customers of Control Stuff. He joined GEAPS in 2003 to establish relationships with potential customers, gain knowledge and expertise, and to share his knowledge with other members.

Within the grain industry, Coder said he is particularly proud of the work his company has done on systems integration. He has worked to automate systems that used to take several operators at multiple locations using radios and hand signals and condensed them into processes that can be completed with a few mouse clicks.

Coder also supports a number of charitable organizations. He has a great interest in renewable energy, and has made both financial donations and provided technical assistance on local and international projects in West Africa, Nicaragua, and across the U.S.

“Throughout his career and his charitable endeavors, Jim has shown a profound interest in making things better,” Neal said. “We have all benefitted from his work on increasing safety and efficiency, and it is an honor to recognize him with the Industry Leader Award.”   

Bauer, the other Industry Leader Award recipient, has been involved in the agriculture industry his entire life. Over the past 46 years, he worked in a variety of management areas for seven different firms, including the last 21 with Star of the West Milling.

“It is very gratifying to be nominated and selected for this award by my peers,” Bauer said. “It is also very humbling, when I think of the people who have received this recognition ahead of me.”

Bauer joined GEAPS in 1975, and helped form the Michigan/So Ontario chapter. He was the first president of the group, and he wound up serving as president twice. He also made two trips to Argentina on behalf of GEAPS, and served as international president from 2004-05. He also worked with two other chapters to create the Great Lakes Regional Conference in Angola, Indiana, and helped establish an active branch of the Emergency Services Rescue Training group in Michigan.

His involvement in the industry also has included chairing the Grain Entrapment Prevention initiative from 1999-2015, co-chairing the Michigan Food and Agriculture Protection & Defense Working Group for over 10 years, and serving on the joint U.S. Agro-Terrorism Prevention and Facility Security Committee in 2007 and 2015.

“Wayne has been a leader in GEAPS and the agriculture industry for a number of years,” Neal said. “His commitment to safety and focus on leadership succession has helped build successful programs that benefit GEAPS and the industry at large.”

GEAPS Exchange 2018 will be March 24-27, 2018, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado, U.S. The Expo Hall will showcase 290,000 square feet of grain handling and processing operations equipment, service and technology solutions.

Booth sales have already begun for Exchange 2018, and 80% of available space has already been reserved.