I’m not Wearing Dress Shoes

My father took me to buy some new dress shoes when I was 10 years old. I was being a typical 10-year-old and was having no part of that process. He sternly told me that I needed to get used to the idea now, because when I get older and have a real job, I would be wearing them every day! I quickly replied that I would be finding a job that would not require dress shoes! That started me on my path to where I am today.

A lot of people are looking for that perfect job, turning to family and friends for ideas. I am no different, having found my career through my two next-door neighbors. We three, now known as “the Harold Street Millers,” hold the distinct self-proclaimed record of having the highest density of flour millers on any block in this nation!

As I quickly found, this is a very old industry. Dale “Doc” Eustace, a highly respected former professor at Kansas State University, used to say, “Flour milling is the second oldest industry – because someone had to feed the first.”

I have found milling to be a skilled trade as well as a form of art in learning how to turn wheat into flour. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln all had hands-on experience running flour mills prior to their political careers.

In the milling industry, you have to use all of your senses. You study and hone skills in the engineering, business management and cereal science fields of study. One day I may be meeting with design engineers for a multi-million dollar expansion project; the next, negotiating with human resource professionals on the finer details of employment law; reviewing financial spreadsheets to determine profitability, or working with a customer’s bakers, trying to troubleshoot why a dough is not holding gas properly during the proofing phase of bread baking.

This is not a career for those who shy away from a challenge. This is a career that will reward you by bringing something new to learn on a consistent basis. The “old” industry standards are being replaced by the latest and most modern technologies. “Lights out” mills that call your iPhone when there is a problem; color-sorting via high-speed cameras utilizing infrared and UV light to separate foreign materials, computers processing high speed automation and logic controllers, in-line metal detection and process controls providing real time analysis of production.

This is a career you can be a proud part of, and make an impact in by providing healthy and nutritious ingredients to your neighbors. You can take pride in knowing the products you see in the store and buy for your family are made at the facility you operate. You are a part of an industry that is and will remain fundamentally important to feeding the world.

– Sean Costello
20+ years in various Production, Maintenance and
Plant Management roles in Corn and Wheat Flour Mills