How to Utilize Data to Make Management Decisions

April/May 2013 | Departments | By Drs. John Foltz and Joan Fulton

“Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.”

“Lies, damned lies and statistics.”

Although the definitive source for the first quote is uncertain it has been attributed to several individuals including Carroll D. Wright and Mark Twain. Mark Twain popularized the second quote in the U.S. Anyone who has worked with data knows firsthand how you can come up with a different conclusion depending upon how the data is presented, understanding the first phrase very well. However, numbers and data have...

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Beyond the Scale

February/March 2013 | Departments | By Steve Day

Operations management software can deliver benefits that go far beyond the scale to not only improve the grain handling operations themselves but also streamline back-office functions and improve customer service – from faster weighing processes and traffic flow to speeding up invoicing to improving accuracy and communications.

At a grain handling facility, generating a scale ticket is the first step in managing the operations for inbound and outbound shipments. Operations management...

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Warning: Grain Tsunami Incoming

February/March 2013 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

Grain merchandising is a never-ending series of challenges, and 2012 crop has been that in spades. Drought-decimated corn and soybean crops left elevators with less grain to handle and less revenue. Buyers and sellers alike have had to adapt to record high basis levels on corn and soybeans, tight holding by farmers, and volatile futures spreads. At least wheat offered some reasonable revenue opportunities!

Even bigger challenges lie ahead. September 1 combined stocks of corn, soybeans, and...

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Motivating Employees: Carrots Beyond Salary and Benefits

February/March 2013 | Departments | By Drs. John Foltz and Jay Akridge

Almost all managers have heard (and likely used) of both carrots (rewards and recognition) and sticks (punishments or censures) as methods to work with your employees.  In this column we draw on a recent book entitled, The Carrot Principle, by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton who base their recommendations on a 10 year study of 200,000 managers and employees — where they state that top managers (as measured by performance of their firms on Return on Equity, Return on Assets and Operating...

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Loads of Benefits Delivered by a Transportation Subsidiary

February/March 2013 | Departments | By Stephen H. Paul and Fenton D. Strickland

Whether your business is in the production of feed, the manufacture of pet foods, milling operations — or any other manner of production or processing — you must be able deliver your product to the customer. If a producer does not engage an outside carrier to haul its product, then chances are that one of the most material and burdensome parts of its operation occurs in the maintenance and operation of its transportation fleet.

Improved safety, compliance and tax savings

Running a...

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Are Computers Needed in Agriculture?

February/March 2013 | Departments | Elise Schafer

The world is changing rapidly. When I first took over my mom and dad’s agriculture computer systems business 20 years ago, it was a challenge to get cooperatives and other ag-related businesses to see the advantage of automating their accounting, managing the company’s books with computerized management software.

The systems were shockingly expensive and needed staff to run them. Moving into the late 90s, the challenge was the impression that computer systems only cost money and didn’t...

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GEAPS and K-State Expand Distance Education Program

January 2013 | Departments | By Douglas Forst

To meet increased interest and demand, GEAPS and Kansas State University have worked diligently to create a program that is expanding each year in scope and value, and 2013 is no exception. We’re adding four new courses and updating another. And we’re also likely to see the first students earn our new Grain Operations Management Credential. 

The credentialing program, which began in 2012, adds an important dimension to the distance education program.  This is the industry’s only credential...

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Moving Rocks

January 2013 | Departments | By Arlette Sambs

Those who need to worry about barge traffic on the Mississippi River got some good news in mid-January. The Army Corps of Engineers completed “the first phase of the most critical rock removal work on the Mississippi River near Thebes, IL, ahead of schedule…” yet, just in time. The river typically is at its shallowest in January, improving in February. Lets hope that holds this year.

According to reports, in just three weeks they increased the river’s depth by two feet, keeping that...

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Training New Managers

January 2013 | Departments | By Jim Miller, Drs. John Foltz and Christine Wilson

So you have done all the right things and hired a couple superstars in your organization. They are young, getting good experience, the “up and comers” of your company. Now what?? You don’t have a management spot yet but you don’t want to lose them or stifle their enthusiasm. How to do you keep them engaged? And then once you do have a management spot open, how do you coach them to be successful? These are a couple topics we will explore in this month’s article.

Keep them engaged

A fully...

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Cost Advantages of Point-of-Use Dust Collection in Dump Pit Applications

January 2013 | Departments | By Chrissy Klocker, Donaldson Torit Applications Engineer

Grain, feed, and seed facilities are often faced with a dirty situation when designing dust collection for rail car and truck dump pits. Designing a dump pit with good dust collection in mind not only addresses the dirty situation but can save you operational time and money.

Traditional dust collection for these applications includes local hoods that capture nuisance dust using large volumes of air that are then transferred to a remote baghouse dust collector. With an integrated...

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America’s Barometer

October/November 2012 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

Garciliaso de la Vega may have exaggerated. As historian of Hernando de Soto’s explorations, in 1543 de la Vega described a great flood on the Mississippi River stretching “20 leagues on each side of the river,” and lasting 80 days. Forty leagues is roughly 120 miles, and we can’t know how de la Vega arrived at his number, but it was an impressive flood by any measure. The Great Flood of 1927 was estimated to "only" stretch 80 miles across at its peak.

The Mississippi River is a 2,300-mile...

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Uncertainty and Risk: How Are You Planning for It?

October/November 2012 | Departments | By Drs. Joan Fulton & John Foltz

The weather is always a major source of uncertainty for all agricultural businesses and as a manager in the feed and grain industry, you know this very well. Certainly those of you operating in the Midwest did not expect the drought to be as long and devastating  as it was during the summer of 2012. Yet, there were some regions where there was ample rain and agricultural production was very good to excellent. Still others of you in places like Texas are dealing with drought conditions...

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Proud New Partner

October/November 2012 | Departments | By J. Patrick Boyle

The American Meat Institute (AMI) is proud to be a partner in this year’s International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE). The trade show is a unique opportunity to bring together representatives from the meat, poultry and feed industries under one umbrella to share new technologies, education and networking from feed through distribution.

AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America....

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Property Expansion Considerations

October/November 2012 | Departments | By Gretchen Miller Busch and Treasa J. Burke

It’s a challenge with which every operation struggles: when to expand facilities to accommodate your growing business, and how to accomplish that expansion in a way that satisfies your company’s unique needs, goals and issues. Businesses within and supporting our nation’s agricultural industry, regardless of their sectors, face unique expansion considerations, such as varying space requirements with the passing of seasons, the need for neighboring property and the goal of preventing...

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Follow the Signals

August/September 2012 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

In our last issue, elevator owner Mike was reassuring his son Jason that even in severe drought years such as 2012 there are ways to make money. Mike reminded Jason to “remember Granddad’s words: Don’t panic; learn to respect market signals.”

Crops are small and demand must be curtailed. Market signals in 2012 crop are already loud and clear: Corn almost doubled in price since the fall of 2011; soybeans went more than twice as high, almost to $18. Futures spreads in corn and soybeans range...

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