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Kingston Grain Recognized as Mennel Plant of the Year

September 28, 2023

The 2023 Mennel “Plant of the Year” Award was presented to Mennel Grain Kingston by Vice President of Operations Dave Marty.

Since 2013, The Mennel Milling Company Operations Division has awarded an Operational Excellence Award, or a “Facility of the Year” award to a deserving Mennel manufacturing plant, mill, grain elevator, operations group/department, or individual who exemplifies what it means to be operationally excellent, based on their overall results, efforts, and activities throughout the fiscal year. The award is intended to recognize outstanding efforts and results within the operations division while sparking healthy competition across our departments and facilities.

According to Dave Marty, “The FY23 award winner is a group of individuals who truly exemplify the “Mennel Way” and is a shining example of what our culture is all about. Possessing can-do attitudes, hard work, teamwork like no other, dedication, and flexibility to change course and help their division out at a moment’s notice; Kingston embodies who we are as an organization. Despite being a “lean” crew, this group packs a punch and gets the job done.”

FY23 was a particularly strong year financially for the Mennel Grain Kingston location, also known as Valley Grain, which doubled their profits this past year.

“This type of result does not happen without doing the right things from an operational standpoint,” added Marty. “We call this ‘Operational Excellence’. That’s a fancy term that means doing the right things at the right time and for the right reasons. It takes effort and communication, and teamwork, and going the extra mile.”

What does that look like day to day? It means stepping up the housekeeping efforts so that this is not only a place where grain does not spoil, but a place where employees and customers alike want to come. Maintaining equipment to ensure there aren’t untimely breakdowns when equipment is needed the most. Doing all the right things to keep the commodity in the best possible condition throughout the year. Staying open late into the night because customers need help to bring in the crop. Taking the extra effort to sweep a few shovelfuls of wheat or corn or soybeans into the pit instead of leaving it.

“These types of efforts don’t get recognized enough,” said Marty. “We tend to take these things for granted and focus on issues or crisis management. Especially in today’s workforce marketplace and hiring environment and the challenges we’ve all experienced these last few years.”

Director of Grain Operations Manager Mike MaGinn not only helped present the award but was on hand to recognize the Kingston team for their outstanding leadership and commitment as well.

“I am proud of the Mennel Kingston team for representing how the grain division operates,” said MaGinn. “Jacob and his employees are very deserving of this award. Jacob leads by example, and I feel that has everything to do with his success there. He works alongside the staff and is always willing to teach and answer any questions they have.”

MaGinn also noted the pride the Kingston team has in their facility by keeping everything well-kept and grain in good quality.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our location and this group. We had some good opportunities last year and we were able to capitalize on a large percentage of them. The hard work, dedication, and willingness to continually improve is impressive,” said Jacob Hall, Regional Grain Operations Manager. “I feel that this group of individuals has the potential to continue to grow as a team and experience continued success.”

Hall also commended MaGinn for providing operational guidance and Corporate Grain Merchandising Manager Grover Van Hoose for providing good opportunities in sales, and several others that provide additional resources and support to the location.

Like past award winners, the team in Kingston will have the opportunity to display the “traveling trophy” for a full year until a new recipient is awarded.

“Keeping the traveling trophy for back-to-back years may be a huge goal, but I believe that if it can be done … these folks can do it,” added Hall.