Facility Feature
Spillville Mill Improves Adjacent Elevator in 11 Weeks After Tornado

Feed mill performs speedy rebuild

SPILLVILLE, Iowa - When a tornado flattened a 550,000-bushel grain elevator adjacent to the Spillville Mill feed mill in Spillville, IA, on July 17, 2017, few would have predicted that the facility would be drying corn six weeks later and fully rebuilt, doubled in size, in 11 weeks.

The restored all-steel elevator now holds a little more than 1 million bushels, says General Manager Terry Barth, who has been with Spillville Mill for about 18 months. (Prior to that, Barth was a self-employed consultant.)

“The tornado struck at 5:30 p.m., and Hawkeye Grain Systems (Hawkeye, IA, 563-380-7399), had a crew here by 7:30,” says Barth. “They brought in some lights and began working 24/7. They did a five-month project in 11 weeks. At one point, we had 53 non-employee workers onsite.”

Hawkeye Grain ended up as the general contractor millwright on the elevator rebuild. Other participants on the team:

  • Raker Rhodes Industrial LLC, Des Moines, IA (515-238-1807), performed engineering work
  • Lahey Architects, Mount Horeb, WI (608-832-1547), did design work.
  • Larson Construction LLC, New Hampton, IA (319-774-7664), supplied the concrete.
  • Perry Novak Electric, Decorah, IA (563-382-2179), did electrical and automation systems.
  • Sukup Mfg. Co., Sheffield, IA (641-892-4222), supplied the corrugated steel storage tanks and almost all of the grain handling equipment.
  • Wiltgen Construction, Calmar, IA (563-562-3301), did excavation work.
  • LoweCon, Crawfordsville, IN (765-866-8231), constructed the steel storage tanks.

Rebuilding after the storm

The Spillville feed mill sustained only minor damage in the storm and was back to making feed within 24 hours. It remained in operation throughout the rebuilding project. “We process between 10,000 and 15,000 bushels a day,” says Barth. “Local farmers were very helpful in keeping us supplied with what we needed.”

In the meantime, LoweCon constructed three Sukup tanks. Two hold 280,000 bushels standing 60 feet in diameter, 112 feet tall at the eave, and 132 feet tall at the peak. The other tank holds 195,000 bushels of wet grain at the same height as the two larger tanks. “We don’t have a lot of space here, so we had to build up instead of out,” Barth notes.

The tanks are outfitted with outside stiffeners, flat floors, and Sukup zero-entry paddle sweeps. For now, no grain temperature monitoring was included, since grain goes directly to the feed mill quickly. Two Sukup centrifugal fans per tank supply 1/9 cfm per bushel of aeration, 50-hp on the larger tanks and 40-hp on the smaller one.

The rebuilt facility includes a1,000-bushel receiving pit, which feed a 10,000-bph Sukup receiving leg. This is outfitted with Maxi-Lift 16x7 Gray CC-MAX elevator buckets mounted on 20-inch belts, Baldor motors, and Dodge drives.

The legs deposit grain into a six-hole swing-type Rapat electronic distributor. This, in turn, sends grain out to storage or to the feed mill via 18,000-bph Sukup drag conveyors.

The tanks empty onto 7,500-bph Sukup drags in above-ground tunnels, which run back to the receiving legs. Alternatively, the smaller tank, which is dedicated to wet grains, can send them to a 7,500-bph wet leg feeding a new Sukup 4,700-bph tower dryer.

Prior to the tornado, the Spillville Mill elevator had no on-site drying, Barth says, so the rebuild was an opportunity to add that capability. During the 2017 harvest, the propane-fueled dryer handled 500,000 bushels of corn, a large amount for the company.

The new dryer sends dry grain back to the distributor via a 7,500-bph Sukup dry leg.

More about Spillville Mill

  • Spillville, IA • 563-562-3158
  • Founded: 1985
  • Grain storage capacity: 1 million bushels+ at one location
  • Feed milling capacity: 900 tpd
  • Products: Full line of dairy and hog feeds
  • Annual revenues: $30 million
  • Number of employees: 32

Key personnel:

  • Terry Barth, general manager
  • Ed Hackman, office manager


  • Aeration fans • Sukup Mfg. Co.
  • Bin sweeps • Sukup Mfg. Co.
  • Bucket elevators • Sukup Mfg. Co.
  • Catwalks Sukup Mfg. Co.
  • Concrete • Larson Construction LLC
  • Contractor • Hawkeye Grain Systems
  • Control systems • Perry Novak Electric
  • Conveyors • Sukup Mfg. Co.
  • Design • Lahey Architects
  • Distributor • Rapat Inc.
  • Elevator buckets • Maxi-Lift, Inc.Engineering Raker Rhodes Industrial LLC
  • Excavation • Wiltgen Construction
  • Grain dryer Sukup Mfg. Co.
  • Millwright Hawkeye Grain Systems
  • Motion sensors • 4B Components Ltd.
  • Motors Baldor Motors
  • Speed reducers Dodge
  • Steel storage • Sukup Mfg. Co.
  • Steel tank erection • LoweCon
  • Tower support system • Sukup Mfg. Co.

Reprinted from Grain Journal January/February 2018 Issue

Spillville Mill Gallery

  • Spillville Mill Aerial
  • Sukup tanks and Sukup dryer

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