Farmers and ranchers, prospective buyers and railway personnel saw Bartlett Grain’s new five-silo and office and shop complex between Great Bend and Ellinwood Thursday. The company has invested more than $20 million in the plant and construction east of Great Bend on the Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad, which is owned by Watco.
About 50 people arrived on a Kansas and Oklahoma railcar on a round-trip from Hutchinson. Several representatives were from Mexico City flour mills, which buy wheat grain from Bartlett.
Andrew Fullerton, Bartlett grain buyer, said Bartlett’s open house was a good way to show how the business will perform when it’s up and running later this spring. More than 250 people attended the open house.
“We had customers from Mexico, who will buy the product,” Fullerton said. “We’ve worked with customers in Mexico for decades, which is a big plus. We sponsored tours of the facility and explained about our company. Everyone got to see everything in person.”
The new elevator is designed for efficient and high-speed handling of inbound trucks. Road access will be off U.S. 56. The five silos’ storage exceeds 2.6 million bushels of wheat, and is designed to load out 110 car shuttle trains.
The rail system is well equipped with state-of-the art safety and technology with computers analyzing and testing shipments. Trucks will enter from the east with shipments, which are tested and analyzed. Fullerton said grain shipments will generally arrive by trucks and will move out by trucks or railway.
“We explained how trucks will flow through the facility,” Fullerton said. “One of our strengths is will provide a market to farmers in the area, plus other elevators. We are a potential outlet for other elevators and anyone willing to sell us grain.”
Rail shipments are also tested and analyzed by independent testers from The Kansas Grain Inspection Service. KGIS serves producers, handlers, exporters, importers and end-users of grain. They verify the quality and quantity of the shipment.
“They are a licensed third party,” Fullerton said. “When we’re loading a railcar, the last thing they do is pull a sample to get a representative grade of what’s in the car. Grain buyers can be confident what they are buying.”
The area is around 100 acres and is located at 550 E. U.S. 56 in the Great Bend Township. It is framed on the north by U.S. 56, the south by East Barton County Road, the east by SE 60 Avenue — the location of the Dartmouth elevator owned by Pawnee Valley Co-op; and the west by SE 50 Avenue — the location of Little Giant Fittings.
The general contractor for the facility was Mid-States Millwrights and Builders based in Nevada, Iowa, which specializes in the type of construction Bartlett is building. The electrical work has been contracted to Myers Electrical based in Sterling. Haynes Electric of Larned has also performed some electrical work.
All site excavation was completed by Stone Sand Company, Inc. of Great Bend. The office building and scale house was constructed by Brentwood Builders, based in Great Bend.
This will be the company’s 10th elevator in Kansas, including one at 3311 N. Emporia in Wichita. Bartlett is a family owned and managed company which has been operating grain elevators in Kansas since 1907. Bartlett operates facilities in Scott, City, Healy, Levant, Moscow, Wichita and three in the Kansas City metro area.