Kelly O’Brien, director of milling operations for Rogers Foods, Ltd.
Kelly O'Brien, left, is congratulated by his son, Kody, for being named the 2017 Milling Operative of the Year at the I.A.O.M. banquet.

NEW ORLEANS —  Kelly O’Brien, director of milling operations, Rogers Foods, Ltd., Armstrong, B.C., is the 2017 recipient of the Milling Operative of the Year award.

The award was presented April 13 during the International Association of Operative Millers (I.A.O.M.) Annual Banquet & Awards Ceremony in New Orleans. The ceremony was part of IAOM’s 121st Annual Conference & Expo.

Established in 1986 by Milling & Baking News, the award is given to the practicing milling operative who has made the most significant contribution to the progress of a plant, a company and the industry from an operating point of view.

Presenting the award was Kelly O’Brien’s son, Kody, who also works for Rogers Foods. He said his father has been a role model to millers in both in Canada and the United States.

“He has taken a small family-run mill in Armstrong, B.C., and helped make them one of the largest companies in western Canada,” Kody O’Brien said. “His company has gone from one mill to, now, three mills, with him leading the way in overseeing the mills being built.”

Kody O’Brien noted that this father’s passion for the milling industry has spanned nearly 40 years, having started out sweeping floors and working his way up to a top management position.

“He has been instrumental in leading his millers to be actively involved in the local I.A.O.M. district where he has served as director, and he has made the I.A.O.M. milling courses a foundation of their professional learning,” Kody O’Brien said. “He believes in and makes sure that our company acknowledges the expertise of millers as leaders in their field who contribute greatly to the overall industry.”

After accepting the award from his son, Kelly O’Brien said: “I am overwhelmed and I really appreciate it. I know a number of the people who have received this award and they are really exceptional, so I am really honored.”

Rogers Foods, a subsidiary of Tokyo, Japan-based Nisshin Flour Milling Inc., has flour mills in Armstrong and Chilliwack, B.C., which have a combined daily wheat flour production capacity of 13,600 cwts and wheat storage capacity of 420,000 bus. The Chilliwack mill is undergoing an expansion to be completed this fall that will increase its daily milling capacity from 5,000 to 9,000 cwts, bringing the company’s overall milling capacity to 17,600 cwts.

Jim Doyle, senior vice-president of King Milling Co.
Jim Doyle, left, is presented with the I.A.O.M. Gold Medal Award, the highest honor given by the organization, during the the I.A.O.M. banquet.

Also during the ceremony, the Gold Medal Award, the highest award given by the I.A.O.M., was presented to Jim Doyle, senior vice-president of Lowell, Mich.-based King Milling Co.

Mr. Doyle said he was proud to be a part of the industry that has successfully dealt with so many challenges over the years.

“This is the I.A.O.M.’s 121st anniversary and when I think about the many challenges we’ve had and the challenges we will face in the future, it’s only through collaboration and working together that we will be able to solve them,” he said.

Jim Doyle’s brother, Steve Doyle, vice-president of King Milling, was recognized during the banquet as the incoming president of the I.A.O.M.

Others receiving awards at the banquet were:

• Ron Galle, ADM Milling Co., who received the Thaddeus Bownik Outstanding Service Award

• Tom Byrnes Jr., Blower Engineering, who received the Allied Trades Technology Award

• Jerry Heaps, who received the George B. Wagner Memorial Award for his contribution to the industry and I.A.O.M. in the areas of sanitation and food protection

• Scott Martin, Ardent Mills, who received the Arlin B. Ward Commendation for Collaboration in Milling Education.