Sioux City Inspection and Weighing Service provides official service throughout central Iowa, southwest Minnesota, southeast South Dakota, and northeast Nebraska. With five offices and 57 onsite laboratories and three inbound truck facility where they provide Official Commercial Inspection service and phytosanitary inspections at several facilities producing soybean meal and flakes under the Agricultural Marketing Act, service is being provided constantly.
Tom Dahl says that technology has allowed Sioux City to provide their customers across this vast area with the service they need. Most onsite laboratories are equipped with video cameras for stowage examinations. In addition to eliminating safety hazards for Sioux City employees, the cameras speed the stowage examination process, which always pleases the customer.
Onsite inspectors have an app on their company cell phone that allows them to take pictures of pan tickets and send that information to the main office in Sioux City where three employees convert this information into certificates. This technology allows Sioux City to provide certificates around the clock, and errors are significantly reduced. As Tom says, “When the train is done, the certificates are done”. With as many as 6 or 7 trains loading on any given day robust communication technology is a must for rapidly providing accurate information to their customers.
Sioux City began as the inspection arm of the Sioux City Grain Exchange. In 1976 Bob Fronabarger was the Exchange’s Chief Inspector and hired a couple of young kids named David Ayers and Tom Dahl to work at the Exchange. A year of working with those two was enough for Bob and he moved to the Cairo agency in 1977. Seriously, both Dave and Tom attribute their success to the foundation provided by Bob.
The agency was purchased by its current owners in October 1993. Tom says they were not sure what they had done because there was a devastating flood that year and the agency did not turn a profit for 6 months. The last 10 years have been expansion years for the agency. The Fort Dodge agency was purchased in 2005, they obtained 13 counties in Minnesota when the State cancelled their designation, and in 2015 they purchased the Central Iowa agency.
The agency is most proud of its dedicated employees that have made the expansion a success. The agency asks a lot of its employees to work shuttle trains at all hours and days of the week, but they make sure that their employees have important personal and family time. That dedication was recently exhibited when a couple of employees on their way to inspect a shuttle train hit a deer, which obliterated the front of the pickup truck. They did a quick check and continued on to the loading site because the customer needed them.
Tom and the group at Sioux City really enjoy working with the customers and GIPSA to find ways to better serve the grain industry. Whether it is providing a new test, a new service, or finding a more efficient way to perform current services. Tom believes it is important to focus on this business aspect to remain relevant, and he enjoys the challenge. Finding new ways of doing things and discussing them with others, no matter how different they are from past practices makes every day a challenge and exciting for Sioux City.
Due to the large 2015 crop, 2016 is shaping up to be a good year, and Tom believes that attention to customer needs, and the dedicated workforce at Sioux City bodes well for continued success.