The newly appointed executive director of the Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS), John Caupert, shares insights into his background in family farming, agricultural economics, grain merchandising and leadership roles in the ethanol industry. Caupert also delves into GEAPS' mission to connect the global grain industry and enhance career opportunities for its members through education and networking opportunities.
Transcription of Feed & Grain Chat with John Caupert, executive director, GEAPS:
Elise Schafer, editor, Feed & Grain: Hi, everyone, and welcome to Feed & Grain Chat. I'm your host Elise Schafer, editor of Feed & Grain. This edition of Feed & Grain Chat is brought to you by WATT Global Media and FeedandGrain.com. FeedandGrain.com is your source for the latest news, product and equipment information for the grain handling and feed manufacturing industries.
Today I'm joined on Zoom by John Caupert, the new executive director for the Grain Elevator and Processing Society. He's here to tell us a little bit about himself and the association's goals in the coming year. Hi, John, how are you?
John Caupert, executive director, GEAPS: Hi, Elise. I'm doing well. Thank you for having me today.
Schafer: Well, thank you for coming on. Now, tell us a little bit about your background and how your experience lends itself to GEAPS’ leadership and executive team?
Caupert: Elise, my background is I'm a I'm a farm kid. I'm a farm kid from Southern Illinois, grew up on a grain and livestock farm, a family farm in which my very youthful parents in their 80s are still there on the family farm. My background academically is I have both my bachelor's and master's degrees in agribusiness economics. My Master's degree focused more on the agriculture policy side of things. Initially out of college, I worked as a grain merchandiser then transitioned into more of a grain accounting type of career path and in those roles, I worked with what I describe as the frontlines of production agriculture — the farmer. After I completed graduate school, I was a contract worker, corporate contract worker for the world's largest brewer. In that capacity I had responsibility for marketing an excess of 2.5 million tons of spent brewer’s grains on an annual basis, primarily to the dairy industry and to the cattle feeding industry.
About 21-22 years ago is when I became familiar with GEAPS as an organization. I was working for a company where we manufactured and marketed grain quality testing systems primarily in the mycotoxin area. And that's where I became familiar with GEAPS and really the grain handling and grain processing industry. And most recently, I spent nearly 20 years in the ethanol industry. I was the executive director of National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center and during my tenure, we led the commercialization of more than 80 products and technologies and saw the corn ethanol industry grow from a 1.6 billion gallon industry to a 16 billion gallon industry. I think, Elise, when you take kind of the culmination of these activities over the last three decades, these are the things that led me to this opportunity in this role as executive director of GEAPS.
Schafer: Right. Now, can you tell us a little bit about GEAPS’ primary goals and policy priorities in the coming year?
Caupert: I think, Elise, I'll focus a little bit more on the on the goals side of this equation. Again, I joined the organization, as we're recording this just about six weeks ago, but I have been familiar with the organization for 20-plus years. When I think about GEAPS as an organization, we're a member driven organization with a mission and vision of being a champion to connect the global grain industry. When I connect our mission and vision with a strategic plan that GEAPS recently adopted, I really come up with this central theme of what for me defines GEAPS and some goals not only of mine, but possibly those of the organization.
And it goes something like this. GEAPS — we’re a thriving community of thought leaders. And we’re thought leaders in the sense that we enhance the career opportunities of our members. Well, how do we enhance those career opportunities? We do it by doing things like this, me visiting with you today by bringing awareness and information not only to our members, but the grain industry as a whole. We complement this awareness and information by bringing educational and networking opportunities, as well. And these are some areas in particular that I'm excited to focus on, not only in the short-term, but expanding in the years ahead.
Schafer: So, what are you most looking forward to for your first GEAPS Exchange as executive director and can you highlight some parts of the agenda that our viewers might be looking forward to?
Caupert: Elise I'm very excited about Exchange. We're going to kick things off on Sunday morning with a dynamic keynote speaker named Sandy Gennaro. Sandy is not only a motivational speaker, but he's world renowned as a drummer. He sat in on drums for music icons like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Bolton and others. He's performed globally in front of more than a billion folks. After the keynote, we’ll be opening our Expo or educational sessions. We have a sold-out Expo, we're going to have nearly 400 visitors on site. Over the course of Exchange, attendees are going to be able to sit and participate in more than 20 educational sessions across four different tracks.And then we're going to close out Exchange by having a very fun, very involved music bingo. So I would encourage participants to brush up on their on their music knowledge for that fun-filled music bingo, where they're going to have an opportunity to walk away with a number of number of prizes.
Schafer: There’s certainly a lot to look forward to. Thank you so much for your time today, John.
Caupert: Thank you, Elise. I appreciate it. It's been my pleasure.
Schafer: Well that’s all for today's Feed & Grain Chat. If you'd like to see more videos like this, subscribe to our YouTube channel. Sign up for the Industry Watch daily eNewsletter or go to feedandgrain.com and search for videos. Thank you again for watching and we hope to see you next time!