Vancouver-based Great Western Malting will be awarded the Association of Washington Business’ 2018 Manufacturing Excellence Award for Green Manufacturing, in recognition of a series of conservation efforts that collectively achieved a 98 percent reduction in the company’s water usage in the past year.
Association president Kristofer Johnson announced the award during a visit Friday to Great Western Malting’s headquarters at the Port of Vancouver. Vancouver was one of the final stops on the association’s Manufacturing Week bus tour of the state.
The Green Manufacturing award is one of four Manufacturing Excellence award categories, and Johnson said Great Western Malting was selected from a list of more than 50 businesses that were under consideration. The awards will be presented at a ceremony in November.
“We just wanted to reduce our consumption as well as our discharge,” said Great Western Malting President Michael O’Toole. “I’m pretty proud of what our people have accomplished in terms of challenging how we do things.”
Several technological upgrades the company implemented in the past year contributed to the water reduction, O’Toole said, including a new set of high-pressure misting nozzles, a new system for distributing water during the malting process, a more efficient barley cleaner and new fans for better airflow.
“The misters were one of the biggest (reductions),” said David Cooke, Great Western Malting’s continuous improvement manager.
Prior to the reductions, the facility used more than 2 million gallons of water per day, according to Cooke. The reduction in the amount of water that needed to be pumped, along with upgrades to the facility’s pumps and fans, also resulted in a power savings of more than 3 million kilowatts of electricity per year.
O’Toole and Cooke also credited Clark Public Utilities, which worked extensively with Great Western Malting to develop and implement several of the power-saving changes.
Great Western Malting was founded in 1934 in Vancouver and employs 220 people at its Vancouver site and in Pocatello, Idaho. The company has an annual malting capacity of 340,000 metric tons, and supplies malt to thousands of brewers throughout the world, including more than 600 in Washington and Oregon.
“We’re behind the scenes, but an important part of what goes into beer,” O’Toole told the crowd of Great Western Malting employees and association visitors at the tour stop.
The Port of Vancouver was one of the last stops on the association’s week-long bus tour, which began in Olympia and made a circuit around much of Washington, visiting dozens of local manufacturers.
Johnson, the top executive of the Olympia-based business and industry advocacy group, said the goal of the event was to celebrate the state’s manufacturing sector and bring more attention to programs aimed at connecting students with industry career pathways.
Johnson said manufacturers throughout the state consistently described three primary concerns to association staff during the tour: infrastructure and the ability to get products to markets, workforce issues, and a sense of certainty about the regulatory and taxing environment in the state.
“Employers are really craving reliability and certainty,” he said.
The tour bus group is primarily composed of association employees, but various manufacturers and state dignitaries have joined the group for segments of the trip or individual events. U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, joined the group for the Great Western Malting visit, and commended the company’s efforts.
“You’re proving that manufacturing jobs can be both sustainable and safe,” she said.
In addition to Great Western Malting, the tour bus also stopped at Hawthorne Gardening and Tidewater Terminal, a container-handling facility, before departing the port and heading to its next stop in Centralia. Media representatives were not invited to the other two Vancouver visits.