QED Dryer Sales & MFG Inc.
QED Dryer Sales & MFG Inc. (QED) stands for three main principles in business: quality, efficiency and dependability. Since 1986, the family-owned and -operated company has armed agriculture professionals with the tools to improve their harvest by preserving and increasing grain quality. QED manufactures continuous mixed-flow heat-recycling grain dryers for corn, rice, wheat, milo, soybeans, peas, food-grade corn and garbanzo beans.
The company’s dryers are found all over the world from Belize to India, Russia and New Zealand, Turkey to Nigeria and at home in North America. QED serves a broad client base, including medium-size farmers and large-scale cooperatives demanding a minimum of 725 bushels per hour from 20 down to 15 percent moisture.
A history of innovation
Based in Rockford, Illinois, QED came to life in 1979 when founder Steve Morreim designed a leading fuel-efficient grain dryer. He looked at many of the round dryers and saw that they just blasted out the heated air, instead of taking that heated air and reusing it. Applying years of experience working on filtration systems with Carter Day in Minneapolis, combined with a masters in physics, Steve created a one-of-a-kind heat-recycling continuous mixed-airflow grain dryer called the miniMAX.
Steve was working for Chicago Eastern when he built his first invention. The company eventually offered him the dryer lines, which he purchased and thus launched QED. A few years later, he developed the ProfitMaster 629 series, increasing the size and volume of the dryer line.
Steve continues to increase the technological advancement of his heat-recycling dryer by listening to his customers’ needs. “We often custom-design dryers for a specific customer’s needs,” he says. “For example, in 2011 we created a steam coil design for the grain dryer so that a company in India could use its steam generation plant and burning rice husks as a fuel source, making the QED grain dryer the most energy-efficient grain dryer in the market since it’s using its own biomass as its fuel source.”
Steve says QED’s advantage is in this second-to-none efficiency. “The QED grain dryer is unique because of its total heat-recycling design where half the heating air and all of the cooling air is recycled and the interior louver system offers a mixed flow as a continuous-flow tower dryer,” he explains. “We also use stainless steel exterior screens that meet Environmental Protection Agency guidelines that rack-type dryers don’t meet.”
“Certain USDA grants are available when customers use our grain dryers because of our improved efficiencies over older models,” adds Steve.
Even with industry-leading design and efficiency, Steve has always strived for improvement. In 2012, Steve redesigned the milo rack system to be long horizontal louvers, increasing airflow and making the modules higher in capacity. QED’s new grain dryer series is the Blue Gem, named for its “diamond tough” design in blue and silver colors and labeled with Steve’s wife Janet’s initials — J.E.M — because she is the “gem of his heart.” The tallest module is named the Blue Diamond series or D1050 series. The shorter dryer is the Blue Sapphire series or the S725 series.
“When the customer’s needs grow, the dryer can increase in size by adding modules because of the dryer’s modular design,” explains Steve. “The dryer has a maximum capacity of 5,250 bushels per hour on corn and 8,750 bushels per hour on rice.”
Direct family ownership
Steve has built QED from the ground up with the help of his family, including his wife, Janet Morreim; his daughters, Nicole Fruit, Stephanie Gorham and Tiffeny Morreim; and his son, Eric Morreim. Janet has been part of the company every step of the way and she now manages the office and customer service facets of QED.
Nicole has been with the company for 20 years as well. “I’ve been learning more about the ins and outs of the business — everything from drilling parts, assembling control panels to shop production management,” she says.
Steve’s son, Eric Morreim is vice president of QED. He started with his degree in marketing and sales and learned on the assembly line. Now he hits the road, talking to customers and potential customers alike.
Rapid service, global ground
Despite its small size, Steve says QED can compete with other larger industry players. “As a company, QED treats the customer as a part of our family and we provide service faster than most to our customers,” he says. “Because we’re a small, family-owned company, we are more responsive to customers and it’s easier for us to react to changes in the marketplace. We give two-year labor and five-year parts warranties and we have done so since 1996. It gives our customers a feeling that we do care, which is hugely important because at the end of the day the customer is your best salesman.”
Today QED has a team of 10 employees and the company’s dryer sales span the U.S. from the Midwest to Texas and Arkansas, west to Idaho and east to Pennsylvania and New York. In Canada, QED serves farmers and cooperatives in Quebec, Saskatchewan and Ontario. The company also has many customers on a worldwide basis, including operations in Nigeria, Turkey, Russia, New Zealand, Belize and India.
Steve doesn’t see any slowdown for QED anytime soon. “Because of our overwhelming efficiency and the quality of rice, corn and wheat, we predict that we are only going to get busier,” he says. “We are looking at improving our factory flow right now and looking forward to fantastic years in the future.”
“Our immediate plans are for remote control or remote monitoring additions to our dryers,” adds Steve. “We still are of the opinion that you cannot depend solely on a computer system. We believe it has to be started by someone at the dryer that can physically see the equipment is operating properly. We also have a design on the drawing board for a larger dryer, but have to keep its cost down, so we don’t know when that will happen.”
Although the agricultural world is one of recent consolidation, Steve says there’s still room for family-owned companies with the gusto of QED. “The ag industry will continue with mergers and acquisitions, decreasing the amount of small commercial operations,” he admits. “As a family business, we like to deal with the smaller operations. We tailor our dryer to the exact crops the customer needs to dry and we will continue to expand by focusing our efforts.”
For Steve, finding a specific dryer solution that works for a customer is the most rewarding aspect of the business. “When I meet with them and listen to them discuss the grain quality, see the weight difference and fuel savings — that’s what it’s all about.”
With fuel-saving, leading design and the service and support that extend from small, family ownership, QED Dryer Sales & MFG Inc. continues its mission of delivering quality, efficiency and dependability.