OVERLAND PARK, KAS. — Wade Blalock, Milner Milling Company, Inc., Barnesville, Ga., received the 2007 Milling Operative of the Year award at the 111th International Association of Operative Millers’ (I.A.O.M.) Conference and Expo May 8 in Overland Park.
The award, presented annually for the past 22 years by Milling & Baking News, recognizes an active milling operative who has made the most significant contributions to the progress of his plant, his company and the industry from an operating point of view. Mark Sabo, president and publisher of Milling & Baking News, presented the award to Mr. Blalock.
In addition to the annual honor, Sosland Publishing Co. establishes a $1,500 scholarship in the winner’s name at Kansas State University, Manhattan.
Mr. Blalock, who received the award at the conference banquet, joined Milner Milling in 1978 as a part-time miller at the company’s flour mill in Barnesville, working through the ranks to become a shift miller in 1985. He was promoted to plant manager of the facility in 1991.
In his nomination letter, David J. Neff, vice-president of operations, Milner Milling, said Mr. Blalock "was always looking for better ways to do things and he loved to experiment. I remember him constantly asking questions and the responsibility that he took for educating himself in milling theory and mill flow analysis."
Shortly after being promoted to plant manager Mr. Blalock took on two mill expansion projects in the mid-1990s that have helped the company achieve excellent milling results while maintaining the highest quality standards.
More recently, he has assisted with company operations in Blackfoot, Idaho, served as technical leader for the design, contracting and start-up of a new mill in Birmingham, Ala., and assisted in mill operations and management in Rome, Ga.
"There is one thing that I can put my finger on that explains why he is such an exceptional technical miller and that is he absolutely loves milling," Mr. Neff wrote. "I suspect that he actually sleeps with his flour slick, although I know that he would never admit it. His briefcase is a storeroom of tools and flow sheets. He is truly a joy to work with in a mill because his enthusiasm for flour milling is contagious."
Mr. Blalock has played an active role at the I.A.O.M., serving as Southeastern district officer and chairperson, and has been a member of the Technical Committee for the past four years.
Upon accepting the award, Mr. Blalock said it was "truly an honor" to be recognized.
"I thank the Lord every day for the great company I work for," he said. "I’ve really enjoyed it, and I still have a long ways to go."