Grain cultivation is a traditional kind of agriculture for Ukrainians. When some countries have their own black gold – oil, Ukraine is the world’s breadbasket.
Times are changing, technologies are developing, and consumers’ demands are becoming different. Nowadays, just growing grain is not enough. It is necessary to properly process it, store it without losing its quality, and deliver it to consumers. Paraphrasing the famous proverb, we can say, “Don’t praise the bread that is not out of the elevator (grain storage facility).”
Grain elevators (storage facilities) are becoming the main link providing good reputation for our grain abroad. Kusto Agro LLC Elevator Company bears the same liability. We will talk about this company with Diana Televan, the company’s CEO.
In Diana’s office, there are many certificates and diplomas. The Business Academy graduation certificate, the diploma from Kusto Agro Group (being its head, she was included into the company’s Gold Fund), and acknowledgments from the shareholders take an honorable place in the office.
Kusto Agro Elevator Company is divided into three structural subdivisions: Kozyatin Elevator, Zhmerinka Elevator, and Rososha Elevator. The central Vinnytsia office employs 10 people. They provide reliable support for the units they are responsible for.
Diana Televan is a well-known woman in the agrarian business, who both theoretically and practically knows the whole way of bread from a single spikelet in the field to a pancake on our table.
“The work on the elevator is complex and responsible because grain is like a living organism which requires tender skillful handling. We have to properly harvest, store, and transport it,” says the CEO.
In our conversation, Diana will tell us about the elevators operation specifics this year, about her colleagues, about experiences and tasks carried out every day, and about plans for the future.
In the battle for the harvest
“The proper grain acceptance, its high-quality processing, and transportation are the primary task of any elevator,” Diana says. “I have to note that this year is quite specific and not easy for all elevators – the late group grain comes in very humid.
Besides, late group grain and legumes ripened almost simultaneously. We hadn’t managed to dry sunflower seeds when soya and corn started to arrive at the elevators. Agrarians surely want to quickly harvest crops from their fields, and we want to provide our services in a quality way as well. The grain processing technology, aimed at maintaining grain quality, requires drying processes at low temperatures, and it takes more time, attention, and resources. Nevertheless, we always try to promptly and efficiently fulfill our obligations, understanding that it’s a guarantee of our success.
More and more companies trust us with their grain every year. There are other elevators providing the same services nearby. Such healthy competition encourages us to do our best. Only this way leads to credibility in the market and allows attracting attention, and we are good at doing so. We cherish our regular customers, who bring their harvest to us, passing by other elevators (grain storage facilities).
Besides the natural factors that have directly influenced the elevators operation specifics this year, there are also significant changes in regulatory documents governing the elevators’ activity and grain quality indicators. We accept grain, in particular, from the depositors complying with the current State Standards of Ukraine, and we have to ship cargo according to quality requirements speculated in export contracts which usually differ from our norms. In the current year, our laboratories and technologist run tests and follow the requirements in a more meticulous manner. They shoulder the burden of our reputation, and they have never let us down.
Every one of our colleagues will confirm that this year is difficult for all elevator businesses, but it’s also productive. Our company has already made more than two turnovers and moved beyond performance targets according to operational and financial indicators.
Taking high grain humidity index and significant volumes into account, our elevators (grain storage facilities) are overfilled. All capacities on our elevators in Kozyatin, Zhmerynka, and Rososh were pre-contracted by depositors. When the grain is dry, it is sold out at warehouses. However, when a year is like this one, every farmer wants to manage it at the grain storage facility. It is quite understandable as it is one thing to sell grain during the harvesting, and quite a different story when you do at the end of the year because prices tend to increase till the end of the year.
Our company doesn’t refuse its services to anyone and accepts all the grain that depositors bring to us. We’ve introduced the technology of packing into polymer bags. This technology allows taking and storing grain in a quality manner even if all the capacities are already full.
People are most important
Successful operational and financial performance shown by our company this year is the result of every employee’s round-the-clock work on the three-shift basis at the grain storage facility and reliable support of the processes by the central office.
I have to mark that people with whom I work are most important for me. The ability to maintain teamwork at the grain storage facility plays a very important role. I have never seen a manager who can do something without a team. Our team is highly professional bringing good results through synergy. The elevator company employs 100 colleagues, each of whom will all go out to achieve the entire company’s high performance. We have never stopped, and haven’t got lost. While the team at the grain storage facility makes every effort at their working place to accomplish assigned operational tasks, the central office always keeps all processes under control. It’s like a server where all the data arrives, is processed and stored, and then the answer is generated upon the corresponding request.
I am proud of every employee and thank them for their good work. The shareholders are thankful to them as well. I’m sure the team, in its turn, appreciates the owners’ support and social policy. You can compare us to a big family where everyone knows problems of their partners and helps when it’s necessary.
Not everything depends on us of course. All our plans are directly dependent on the railway operation. This year, we fall short of grain arrivals just because we couldn’t ship it. This is an all Ukrainian issue and all the elevator companies experience it. Any elevator company is actually an intermediary between a field company and a trading company. We have already found the way out of this situation. Supported by our shareholders, our partner Kusto Logistics LLC has bought new railroad cars, using which we will ship our own and other depositors’ grain.
No time to rest. For elevator companies, the end of the harvest season is just 50% of all the work. After the acceptance process is completed, the elevators start unloading grain. This year a significant amount of grain is stored in polymer bags, so, we primarily plan to unload everything, form batches, fulfill export contracts, operate using the latest technologies, and introduce alternative fuels utilization.
Our company works according to budget planning, so, we always try to efficiently minimize costs. Our shareholders are interested in the efficient and careful utilization of natural resources of the country in which our business operates. For their part, they always support and create the necessary working conditions for the company and comfortable working conditions for each employee. Our shareholders are able to “listen” and “hear” as our company nurtures far-reaching development plans.