Click here to view a slideshow from the I.A.O.M. Annual Conference & Expo.

NIAGARA FALLS, ONT. — Hundreds of milling industry professionals from North America and throughout the world gathered in Niagara Falls for the International Association of Operative Millers’ (I.A.O.M.) 117th Annual Conference & Expo. The meeting, held April 29-May 3 at the Hilton Hotel & Suites Niagara Falls/Fallsview and Scotiabank Convention Centre, featured 125 exhibitors who displayed the latest products and services for the international milling industry. Nearly 900 delegates attended the event.

The educational component of the conference was broken into three overarching themes: product protection, technical operations and employee management.

The product protection section included presentations on heat treatments, phosphine gas and pest management. The technical operations section included talks on dust collection, belt selection and millfeed storage and loadout systems. The facility management section touched on hiring and retaining employees, facility safety, and injury and fatality prevention.

The annual event provides opportunities for education, networking and fellowship. The programs are presented by professionals in the field who have first-hand experience with the issues affecting millers.

In taking the gavel from Aaron Black, director of operations at Wilkins-Rogers, Inc., Mount Joy, Pa., Joel Hoffa, corporate milling engineer at The Mennel Milling Co., Fostoria, Ohio, became the 109th president of the association. Mr. Hoffa thanked the Mennel family for their support and recalled how Bob Reid, his former boss at Mennel, had helped shape his career.

Mr. Hoffa, whose theme for his presidency is “Input, Engage, and Excel,” told the audience at the I.A.O.M. banquet and awards ceremony that when he first started working for Mennel Milling, he learned Mr. Reid’s “10 commandments” of flour milling.

“I only remember two of them — It takes a lot of beer to run a flour mill and you need to make the place a fun place to work,” Mr. Hoffa said. “Item one is self-evident to me, but I must add that when I recently asked Bob about it he said that this was an observation, not a commandment. Item two means to me that we need to value people and especially value their ideas. If members do not find our meetings enjoyable, then they are not going to attend them. So I encourage all of you to be very forthcoming with us on how we can improve upon the I.A.O.M. experience.”

The keynote address at the International Milling Education Foundation (I.M.E.F.) breakfast was given by Justin Gilpin, chief executive officer of the Kansas Wheat Commission. Mr. Gilpin spoke about biotech wheat and the need to advance technologies in wheat to meet the growing demands of the world’s population for more grain (See story on Page 32).

During the I.M.E.F. breakfast, Keith Horton, past president of the I.A.O.M. and vice-president of operations at Grain Millers Inc., announced that the Eden Prairie, Minn.-based company had made a donation of $100,000 to the I.M.E.F. This represents the largest single donation to the I.M.E.F. fund.

The donation establishes the Christian F. Kongsore Scholarship. The scholarship, which is I.M.E.F.’s first endowed scholarship, will be presented to a qualified grain milling student by Grain Millers Inc. on an annual basis beginning in the fall semester of 2013. The amount of the annual award will be $5,000.

“Grain milling is one of the oldest professions in the world and with an ever-increasing world population milling will remain a most life sustaining profession,” Mr. Horton said. “Promoting our profession and motivating future generations to seek careers in milling is critical. Like so many other milling companies, Grain Millers Inc. and its board of directors recognize the importance of our industry and the individuals who will lead it into the future.

“In today’s high-tech world, it is more necessary than ever that we provide the best opportunities for a quality education in milling, while also continuing to teach future generations the ‘art’ of milling. Investing in the education of future millers and grain science students has never been more important and should be a priority to us all.”

Joel Hoffa, president of the I.M.E.F., added, “We are excited about what this donation does to expand the I.M.E.F. Scholarship Program and the additional support it affords to grain milling students. We have had tremendous support from across the industry for I.M.E.F., but this level of commitment by Grain Millers is significant to the continued success of I.M.E.F.”

Silent and centerpiece auctions to benefit the I.M.E.F. were held throughout the conference as well and raised $50,000 in donations for the foundation.

“We are impressed by the great results, especially considering we had decided not to hold a live auction this year,” Mr. Hoffa said. “The industry continues to provide outstanding support for this annual event.”