Milling executives get schooled

Posted November 14, 2013

MANHATTAN, Kan- It may come as a surprise that the participants at the Buhler-KSU Executive Milling Course at the International Grains Program (IGP) this week are not millers. But, that is exactly the point. The week-long course, underway currently, is designed to provide members of milling operations, who may not be millers themselves, a basic understanding of the milling process.

“Five executives from three countries are in Manhattan for a crash course in milling operations led by instructors from K-State and Buhler’s school in Switzerland,” explained Mark Fowler, IGP associate director at K-State. “This successful partnership helps improve their businesses by exposing them to the full range of operations within the milling process.”

The five-day course is specifically targeted to everyone from mill owners and general managers to grain purchasers, human resources staff, researchers and sales team members. Participants in the five-day course spend time both in the classroom and the Hal Ross Flour Mill learning firsthand about factors influencing each step of the milling process. Class size is limited to five to 10 participants to further ensure that everyone receives quality hands-on instruction.

“This isn’t just an informational session. Participants will spend at least two days worth of time actually in the mill, in a hands-on environment that facilitates better learning,” said Tobias Nanny, head of Buhler’s Grain Processing Training Center. “Participants are able to take home information, ideas and knowledge that they can put to use, once they’re back in their own operations.”

Nanny knows what works when it comes to grain science education. He is a miller by trade, and is now part of a six-member team at Buhler focused on providing training and education to millers, reaching 400 to 500 hundred millers a year through various courses.

Participants are not the only beneficiaries for these courses, there is something in it for Kansas wheat producers as well, according to Aaron Harries, director of marketing at Kansas Wheat.

“Programs like the Buhler-IGP Executive Milling Course bring key mill customers from around the world to Kansas and give us a great opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with those customers of U.S. wheat,” he said. “Exposure to the K-State Grain Science campus reinforces to our customers how strong our commitment is to research and development of quality products.”

In 2012, IGP trained 855 participants from 42 countries in 47 courses that covered grain buying, food safety, feed production, flour milling and dozens of other areas. Nanny said he believes IGP’s success is in large part to the expertise and facilities that comprise K-State’s Grain Science Complex.

“IGP is really a world-leading research and education center, not just for wheat, but for numerous other grains,” Nanny stated, also mentioning Buhler was a major benefactor, along with other milling supply companies, of the Hal Ross flour mill. “A facility like the Hal Ross flour mill and the ability to hold courses such as this one, combined with the faculty expertise and research focus of K-State, makes a great combination.”