Owensboro Grain celebrated a grand opening of the company’s new elevation system on Thursday, bringing together employees, farmers and local and state-wide political figures who support the agricultural community in Kentucky.
Executive Vice President John Wright said the new elevation system had been in the works for 20 years.
“The elevator has been a plan of ours for many, many years and, finally, we’re able to get it built,” Wright said.
President and CEO of Owensboro Grain, Helen Cornell spoke about the importance and purpose of Owensboro’s Grain newly adopted technology and significant expansion.
“In some form or another, Owensboro Grain Company has been part of Owensboro’s business economy for 117 years,” Cornell said. “[The agricultural community] continues to be a significant engine for Owensboro’s growth.”
Cornell said Owensboro Grain has maintained a steady growth of increased employment over the years and has increased its focus on local suppliers, adding that the company also provided economic support to other organizations over the years.
“The investment we’re celebrating today was particularly important to us because it’s a signal to the regional farming community that we look forward to growing together,” Cornell said. “This has been a big project for us. Truthfully, it’s the biggest project we have ever taken on.”
Cornell said, with the new elevation system and the addition of several steel grain bins, Owensboro Grain had more than doubled their receiving capacity of inbound soybeans. More than 2 million bushels of soybean storage had been added, and the company more than doubled its drying capacity.
At Owensboro Grain, truck drivers can now get through the lines more quickly due to the company’s implementation of automated technology, according to Cornell.
“It also adds to a safe environment because when they stay in their trucks — there’s less risk of potential injury for everyone,” Cornell said.
Owensboro Grain has now adopted flexibility in operations that it didn’t have in the past. Now, Cornell said, they can receive corn and soybeans simultaneously. Dedicated probe lines and receiving pits have allowed this to happen. The new equipment will be focused on soybeans while the facility that borders the Ohio River will receive and process corn.
As the only soybean processor and the only producer of soy-based biodiesel in the state of Kentucky, Owensboro Grain said they will continue to provide the highest quality products possible in the future.
The project was no easy feat, but the company’s leaders felt the updates were necessary for the company’s success and growth.
“It’s a big project, and it’s a big commitment, but we came to the realization that the storage assets we had across the street were aged and older, and we didn’t have a backup,” Wright said.
Wright said farmers in past years told him that the combines were always waiting for the trucks to return from the elevator. Now, with Owensboro Grain’s implementation of new equipment, those trucks are waiting for the combines to get out of the field.
The price tag attached to the brand new steel bins was “substantial,” Wright said, but he believes it is an investment that will allow local and regional farming communities to experience continued success.
“I was a little worried how the farmers were going to adapt because now we have kiosks, we give the farmers a card, and they plug it into the kiosk machine and it identifies them,” Wright said. “Then they plug in the percentage of breakdown — who gets what — and I was worried they might lose their card or they wouldn’t like it, but it all seems to go very fast. They’ve adapted very well. They never even have to get out of the truck.”