Central Grain Company
Central Grain Company (CGC) is a grain storage and marketing business based in Belvidere, Illinois. Now in its second generation of family ownership, CGC’s roots trace back to 1957 when Robert Mickey started up with little more than the support of family, friends and colleagues.
Robert grew up in agriculture. He began his career after graduating from the University of Illinois as a federal warehouse grain examiner, learning the ins and outs of grain storage and marketing. At the age of 25, he took that knowledge and experience and struck out as an entrepreneur, founding CGC.
CGC began as a small elevator with only a single grain storage bin and grew exponentially over the years. Robert made a forthright effort to build strong relationships with area growers who would continue to support his venture for decades to come.
Today, CGC offers more than 7 million bushels of grain storage and serves more than 200 growers in Boone, Winnebago and DeKalb counties. With a single location, CGC employs 12 full-time employees and six to eight seasonal workers to help during the harvest.
A continuing legacy
Robert passed away unexpectedly in October 2013; Dan Mickey, now general manager, as well as Bob Jr., assailant manager, now run the business. Both brothers graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in agribusiness. After college, Dan worked for Demeter, an Indiana-based grain elevator, for three years. After that, he worked with Ohio-based The Andersons Grain Group for another seven years.
“I was so fortunate to work with some great people in the grain industry,” Dan says proudly. “I learned a lot about customer service and relationships.”
Eventually, Dan returned to the family business, where he learned important lessons and gained unique perspectives alongside his father. “It was a hard transition after losing my dad,” he explains. “My father was very well known in the industry and he knew his customers well.” Now, Dan is continuing the family legacy by operating on a mission that puts the company’s growers first.
“This is a service-based industry,” Dan notes. “We offer many of the same services as other grain elevators in our region. We know our growers have options and that if they want to take their business somewhere else, they can. We are competitive on price, but the way we treat our customers sets us apart more than anything else. We work with our farmers. We want them to do well, so we help them get the most out of storage and merchandising.”
The company devotes more resources to corn than anything else, although growers also rely on CGC for soy and wheat storage. Serving an approximate 20-mile radius from the facility in Belvidere, the company picks up grain from some farmers, while most deliver their own grain.
A significant amount of grain is exported, while many products stay within the United States, leaving the facility by truck or rail. Corn goes to chicken feeders in the southeast, as well as a few ethanol facilities, while soy and wheat are typically destined exclusively for the feed market.
The facility is built for speed, a factor that Dan and his team are always looking to improve. “We want to get our customer in and out fast,” he explains. “Our growers trust us to move their product, so we are constantly updating our facilities. Usually the focus is on increasing capacity. Right now we are getting new sweeps in our tanks. Slowly, over the last few years, we have been computerizing our equipment outside, so we can use automation to control all our operational equipment to run our elevator. Everything is on a touch screen. KDJ Electrical has helped us update our grain elevator.”
By increasing efficiencies, CGC is helping growers see better value in the company’s services. Dan and his crew continue to seek out new markets and new customers throughout the region. The business is cyclical: facility upgrades help farmers do better. When farmers are doing better, they bring their business back to CGC.
While growth is an important factor in how Dan gauges the company’s success, he is also proud to report that CGC is involved in the community. “We are always sponsoring things locally,” he explains. “We are in a small town, so we get involved with local high schools, especially with the 4H and FFA. We also contribute to the local food bank and the Salvation Army.”
On a statewide scale, the company is a longtime member of the Illinois Grain and Feed Association. Dan’s father served as director of the association and CGC remains involved today.
In the grain business you must look in the future for opportunity. The team strives to stay ahead of technology and industry trends, opening up new markets and opportunities for growers whenever possible. After more than 50 years in business, Central Grain Company remains dedicated to supporting customers through leading storage and merchandizing services.