John R McCrea Agency

Located in western Illinois and eastern Iowa, the John R. McCrea Agency was founded by John Calhoun McCrea in February 1918.  John grew the agency by managing and grading grain for over 50 years until his son John Richard (Dick) McCrea returned from World War II in 1947 to begin his career with the Agency.

Just like his dad, Dick still comes to work every day at age 86 and maintains his grading license by grading corn and soybeans.  Although Dick has turned over some of the daily responsibilities to his daughter Jill Lutz Bielema, he is there every day to assist and provide guidance.

Located along the upper Mississippi River, the McCrea Agency inspects mostly barges.  Always, challenged by either too little or too much water to load barges, annual winter river closures due to ice, and unpredictable lock maintenance closures, the business can be challenging, but nothing that a member of the Greatest Generation can’t handle.  

Dick provides a living history of the last 66 years of grain inspection, transportation, and handling.  Through all of those changes, Dick has made sure that the McCrea Agency operated with the highest level of honor, integrity, dignity and steadfast adherence to the U.S. Grain Standards Act, the regulations and instructions.  Dick’s integrity and character has earned him great respect and many friendships from the ever changing grain industry representatives that he has served and his peers in the Official Inspection System.

One of the most unique aspects observed by both Jill and Dick about the grain inspection business is how little most folks know about the business.  When friends drop by the agency they are always amazed and intrigued to learn about the role that grain inspection plays in how food comes to their tables.  With Dick’s love of the business visitors always leave with a great appreciation for the role of official grain inspection, and how proud the McCrea Agency is to be a part of the vital process.  

Dick and Jill are always looking for opportunities to grow their business.  Although the weather can always challenge the number of barge inspections available in a given year, and container loading and processing plants may take grain away from the barge loading facilities, Dick and Jill are optimistic about new opportunities and barge inspections.  There remains no more efficient method of transportation than barge transportation, and with exports rising and a good crop this year the future looks bright.

For an even further look back at the founding of the McCrea agency click here to read an article about Dick’s Father and founder of the Agency.