Big Elevator Gets Bigger at Blanchard Valley Farmers Cooperative

Big Elevator Gets Bigger

Blanchard Valley Farmers Cooperative Findlay, OH
• 419-423-2611
Storage capacity: 14.8 million bushels at eight locations
Annual volume: 25 million bushels
Annual revenues: $200 million
Number of members: 1,717
Number of employees: 132
Crops handled: Corn, soybeans, soft red winter wheat
Services: Grain handling and merchandising, feed, agronomy, liquid fuels, retail farm store
Key personnel at Fostoria:

  • Thomas “Joel” Althouse, plant manager
  • Mitch Welty, grain division manager
  • Dawn Bowling, office manager
  • Jason Bower, grain originations
  • Megan Fredritz, grain originations

Supplier List

Aeration fans.............Rolfes@Boone
Bucket elevator...Hawthorne-Seving Inc.
Catwalks.... LeMar Industries Corp., Hawthorne-Seving Inc.
Contractor.........Elevator Services & Storage, Inc.
Conveyors........Hi Roller Conveyors
Distributor........ Hayes & Stolz Ind. Mfg.Co. Inc.
Dust collection system...Hawthorne Systems
Elevator buckets........Maxi-Lift Inc.
Grain temp. system....Rolfes@Boone
Level indicators...... BinMaster Level Controls
Millwright.........Elevator Services & Storage, Inc.
Steel storage............The GSI Group
Tower support system...Lemar Industries Corp., Hawthorne-Seving Inc.
Truck probe................. Intersystems

Weighing in at 8.77 million bushels of storage capacity, Blanchard Valley Farmers Cooperative’s terminal elevator at Fostoria, OH (419-435-4763), is one of the very largest grain facilities in the State of Ohio. And it’s getting bigger...and faster. Over a two-year period in 2010-11, Blanchard Valley added two new receiving pits, a 30,000-bph leg, several similarly-sized enclosed belt conveyors, a new 730,245-bushel steel tank, and new scalehouse and probe. That last item will allow the facility to reroute truck traffic, speeding up the lines and moving most of the grain trucks waiting to dump off of Fourth Street, which runs along the south side of the elevator. “This business is about customer service,” says Plant Manager Thomas “Joel” Althouse, a 10-year veteran employee of the cooperative, “and that translates into speed and space. That means getting the farmer through the facility faster and being able to store grain until the markets are the most favorable for our members.” For the entire two years, Elevator Services & Storage, Inc., Beaverdam, OH (419-643-5111), served as general contractor and millwright on the $6 million project. “Blanchard Valley has a 40-year relationship with ESSI, and they probably do 99.9% of all our construction projects,” says Mitch Welty, grain division manager. The other major contractor on the project was Bromack Electric Services Inc., New Riegel, OH (419-595-2074), which designed and installed the control systems for the new construction.

2010 Work
In order to make room for the new intallations, Blanchard Valley swapped parking lots with Seneca Mill Works, a neighboring manufacturing operation, and purchased and demolished seven houses. Work got underway in the spring of 2010 with the installation of two new 500-bushel mechanical receiving pits feeding a single 30,000-bph Hawthorne- Seving leg in the space between the elevator’s huge concrete house and a newer row of large corrugated steel tanks along Fourth Street. (Hawthorne-Seving is ESSI’s manufacturing division.) Since the facility is located inside of an urban area, the cooperative also installed a Donaldson baghouse filter system to control dust from the new pits. The new leg is outfitted with two rows of 16x8 Maxi-Lift Tiger-Tuff buckets mounted on a 36-inch Goodyear belt. This leg feeds into a six-hole Hayes & Stolz rotary distributor. The distributor deposits grain onto two 30,000-bph Hi Roller enclosed belt conveyors, one running out to the large steel tanks and the other running to the concrete “D” and “E” houses.

2011 Work
The following year, ESSI constructed a new 730,245-bushel GSI steel tank at the west end of the row of steel tanks, the fourth steel tank along the southern side of the property. The new tank stands 105 feet in diameter, 91 feet tall at the eaves, and 119 feet tall at the peak. It includes outside stiffeners, flat concrete floor, a Bobcat door, 24-cable Rolfes@Boone grain temperature monitoring system, and BinMaster level indicators. A set of four Rolfes@Boone 30-hp centrifugal fans and nine 2-hp roof exhausters move 1/10 cfm per bushel of air through the grain mass. The new tank is filled and emptied at 20,000-bph by Hi Roller enclosed belt conveyors overhead and in an aboveground tunnel. As part of its traffic-rerouting effort, Blanchard Valley replaced an old two-story scalehouse with a new single-story building to the southeast. Employees still will be able to peer inside grain trucks using closed-circuit video cameras mounted on lampposts. The existing inbound and outbound truck scales will continue to be used, but a new Intersystems truck probe purchased and installed by Authorized Grain Service, Dayton, OH will deliver the samples to the inspection building via pneumatic tube. Althouse notes that the new construction is expected to virtually eliminate trucks stopped on Fourth Street during the busy harvest season. This has gained the strong support of the elevator’s neighbors, which include the Mennel Milling Co.’s flagship flour mill, Seneca Mill Works, and a ProMedica medical center. “The City of Fostoria has been a big help to us on getting the project completed,” Welty comments.