Hastings Grain Inspection is a proud family owned and operated official agency. The agency was founded in 1947 by George Ripley. A young Ted Hoelck lived next door to George and began working at the agency. A special bond grew between George and Ted. The bond became stronger when George’s son was killed in the Korean War. In 1959, Ted Hoelck purchased the agency from George. Today, Ted’s son Greg is the Agency Manager and operates the Hastings office, and Ted’s daughter, Ann manages the Grand Island office. Ted has not lost his passion for the business and comes into the office regularly to see how things are going.
Ted always believed that you must be proud of your work, and make sure everyone knows that. AAGIWA owes its beginnings 66 years ago to Ted Hoelck and a few other visionaries that decided the official agencies needed an association to speak for them to both the government and the grain industry. When the inspection system was under attack in the late 70s, Ted went to Washington and testified before Congress as they rewrote the United States Grain Standards Act.
Hastings territory includes central and western Nebraska. The agency provides rail inspections of corn, soybeans, Hard Red Winter Wheat, and some sorghum at 20 on-site loading facilities. Nineteen full-time employees provide service throughout the territory. Greg and Ann credit the Hastings employees for the company’s success.
All Hastings’ employees are inspectors, because, as Greg and Ann know you can never predict when, where, and how many inspectors will be needed in shuttle train loading country. The dedication of Hastings’ employees is evident by their longevity. Three employees have been with the company for 43 or more years. One reason for this commitment is that the management at Hastings realizes that employees are people with lives outside of work, and when employees have church or kids sporting activities to attend, everything that can be done, is done, so they can attend.
Greg and Ann also attribute the agency’s success to their ability to adapt to the ever changing grain industry. Ten years ago when the ethanol boom took much of the corn out of the traditional marketing stream, and shuttle loading facilities became the norm, Hastings continued to provide inspection services with the highest integrity and customer service. Integrity, service, and reminding customers the value of official inspection have always been Ted Hoelck’s mantra. Greg and Ann continue that philosophy and the business has remained solid. They see nothing but a bright future ahead. Greg believes the greatest challenge will be to accommodate all the future requests for service with the current staff.
Greg and Ann both find that the excitement of operating an official agency is handling the day to day unpredictability. No matter how much effort is done to avoid surprises, there is always a train stalled somewhere, an additional inspector needed someplace, or an unexpected train arriving. Greg says “at the end of the day you may not get a thank you, but you are proud of what you did that day to facilitate the marketing of grain, and that is enough”.
Meeting the changing grain industry challenges and improving on past practices has always made Hastings successful. Hastings was one of the first agencies to test and work with cameras to perform railcar stowage examinations. At Hastings Grain Inspection they never close the door on a challenge and will always continue to look for and implement improved ways to perform service.