By KRISTY FOSTER
SALEM, Ohio — Simmons Grain is making an investment not only in its business but in the area’s grain farmers.
The grain operation is in the middle of a $750,000 expansion project this year that will result in upgrades and better efficiency. The construction should be complete by July.
The company is creating a system that will allow farmers to get trucks unloaded faster. They will have doubled the unloading capacity — two 5,000 bushel-an-hour unloading pits when it is completed.
Storage capability. In addition, Simmons Grain is increasing storage capacity with a new bin to help move wet grain faster into the dryers.
The facility will now have 710,000 bushels total storage capacity for grain.
Started from scratch. Jay Simmons, father of current owner Jeff Simmons, started building the business in 1981 with only a bare piece of ground, and opened in 1982. Since then, the elevator has grown significantly. This year’s expansion makes the second project since 2008.
Before the expansion projects, the facility held 356,000 bushels of grain storage. Within the past couple of years, the company has doubled the storage capacity.
“We are trying to get more efficient and continue upgrading,” said Eric Simmons, the third generation to help manage the business.
They built additional storage in 2008, but found themselves running out of storage last year, which made the latest upgrade necessary.
Greater flexibility. Simmons Grain is currently able to dry 50,000 bushels in 24 hours. With the upgrade, they will be able to dry 2,000 bushels an hour.
Jeff Simmons said the increase will give farmers greater flexibility and help ease situations many farmers ran into last fall. The wet conditions meant more drying for grain, which produced longer wait times at many mills, and prolonged the harvest. Many farmers couldn’t run continuously because some grain elevators would stop accepting grain until the dryers could catch up.
The operation is family owned, with Jeff Simmons and his son, Eric, managing it. Jay is now retired.
Organic bean niche. In addition to grain sold by farmers to the business, soybeans are either trucked or brought in by the rail lines that run beside the operation. The organic soybeans come in 20-foot containers from seven countries across the globe. They process 15,000 bushels of organic soybeans per week.
An independent drying system for the organic soybeans is set up on the property so that the beans are not contaminated with conventional grain. The organic section of the warehouse is dedicated exclusively to organic soybeans roasting processing.
Simmons said the organic soybeans side of the business is growing by leaps and bounds, and the business is expanding with more bins to store organic soybeans.
K&S Millwrights worked on the expansion project, as did Henry Spack Excavating Services, Groger Masonry and Julian Electric.
Simmons Grain is located 600 Snyder Road in Salem, Ohio. They can be contacted by calling 330-337-6327 or 800-754-1228. Business hours are from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. They offer extended daytime and weekend hours during the harvest season.