Facility Feature
TopFlight Grain Adds Storage at Elevators Showing Space Deficits

Farmer-owned grain coop operates grain elevators across three towns

BEMENT, MONTICELLO, ATLANTA, Ill. - When a farmer-owned grain cooperative operates 20 elevators across a large swath of countryside, big construction projects are an annual event.

“We had significant storage deficits at three of our locations,” says Eric Clements, operations manager for Monticello, IL-based TopFlight Grain Co., looking back at 2017 projects. (Clements has spent his entire 31-year grain industry career based at TopFlight’s Bement, IL elevator [217-678-2261] following his graduation from Bement High School, almost directly across the street.)

Those deficits were running about 1 million bushels at Bement and Monticello and about 500,000 bushels at Atlanta, IL (217-648-2318), which TopFlight acquired from East Lincoln Farmers Cooperative in 2015.

“We were having to store some grain on the ground, haul some out to other storage sites, or load rail at inopportune times,” Clements continues. “We just needed some extra storage.”

That came in the form of three GSI corrugated steel tanks, 105 feet in diameter at Bement and Monticello and 90 feet in diameter at Atlanta.

TopFlight took several bids on the three projects and awarded the contract to Koehl Bros. Inc., Fairbury, IL (815-692-2326), which has done numerous projects with the cooperative over the years.

Additional contractors working with TopFlight in 2017:

  • SKS Engineers LLC, Decatur, IL c (217-877-2100), performed engineering work.
  • Atchison Electric, Sullivan, IL (217-728-4713), served as electrical contractor at Bement and Monticello, while KDJ Sales & Service Inc., Mackinaw, IL (309-359-3611), served the same role at Atlanta.
  • LoweCon LLC, Crawfordsville, IN (765-866-8231), erected all three tanks.
  • Craig’s Concrete Inc., Gilman, IL (815-265-7355), supplied concrete and poured the foundations.
    Work on the projects began in March, and the last of the three tanks was completed just in time for the 2017 fall harvest. With record or near-record corn and soybean yields across central Illinois, the tanks filled up quickly.


The Bement elevator was the site of one of the first 105-foot-diameter corrugated steel grain storage tanks in the United States, manufactured by Butler Mfg. Co. (later acquired by Brock Grain Systems) in 1994. That tank, still in use, holds about 650,000 bushels.

Soil conditions on the site were challenging for such a large tank. Workers had to excavate nearly a dozen feet down and replace the earth with fill material that could hold the weight of the tank and its contents.

The new 105’er from GSI holds approximately 750,000 bushels, standing 93-1/2 feet tall at the eave and 121 feet tall at the peak.

The tank is outfitted with a flat floor, outside stiffeners, 24-cable Canary grain temperature monitoring system from KDJ, and a 12-inch GSI X-Series zero-entry sweep auger.

A set of four 60-hp Chicago Blower centrifugal fans provides 1/7 cfm per bushel of aeration with the help of 13 roof exhausters. The fans are outfitted with silencers to hold down the noise in the residential neighborhood.

The tank is filled via an overhead GSI 20,000-bph drag conveyor, supported by a GSI tower. The tank is equipped with a GSI AgriDry spreader for even distribution inside the tank and to help maintain grain quality.

The tank also is equipped with a sidedraw spout but otherwise empties onto a GSI 10,000-bph drag conveyor in an above-grade tunnel. That conveyor drops grain onto a second, below-ground conveyor running underneath a driveway.


The new 105-foot-diameter tank at Monticello is two rings taller than the one at Bement and holds 788,000 bushels, the largest GSI currently manufactures in the 105-foot range.

This tank stands 99 feet tall at the eave and 126-1/2 at the peak. It’s outfitted similarly to the tank in Bement but with four larger 75-hp Chicago Blower centrifugal fans to maintain 1/7 cfm per bushel of aeration.

An overhead 25,000-bph GSI enclosed belt conveyor delivers grain to this tank. As in Bement, a 10,000-bph GSI drag reclaim conveyor starts above ground but drops below ground to avoid a driveway.


The smaller 90-foot-diameter tank constructed at the Atlanta elevator stands at the northeast end of the property at the end of a row of steel tanks. This 575,000-bushel tank stands 98 feet tall at the eave and 121 feet tall at the peak.

This tank has outside stiffeners, flat floor, GSI X-Series zero-entry sweep, and a 16-cable KDJ Canary grain temperature monitoring system. A set of four 50-hp Chicago Blower centrifugal fans are sufficient to provide 1/7 cfm per bushel with nine roof exhausters.

An overhead 20,000-bph GSI drag conveyor is used to fill the new tank, which empties onto a 7,000-bph GSI reclaim drag in a below-ground tunnel running back to existing equipment.

More about TopFlight Grain Co.

  • Monticello, IL • 217-762-2163
  • Founded: 1998
  • Storage capacity: 40 million bushels at 20 locations
  • Annual volume: 40-45 million bushels
  • Annual revenues: $180-220 million
  • Number of members: 1,700
  • Number of employees: 63
  • Crops handled: Corn, conventional and non-GMO soybeans, soft red winter wheat
  • Services: Grain handling and merchandising, trucking

Key personnel:

  • Scott Docherty, general manager
  • Eric Clements, operations manager
  • Jim Murphy, Bement superintendent
  • Cody Taylor, Bement assistant superintendent
  • Jacob Hunt, Monticello superintendent
  • Jeremy Flener, Atlanta superintendent


  • Aeration fans • Chicago Blower
  • Aeration system • Decatur Aeration
  • Bin sweeps GSI
  • Catwalks GSI
  • Concrete Craig’s Concrete Inc.
  • Contractor Koehl Bros. Inc.
  • Control systems Atchison Electric Inc., KDJ Sales & Service Inc.
  • Conveyors • GSI
  • Engineering SKS Engineers Inc.
  • Grain temp system KDJ Sales & Service Inc.
  • Millwright • Koehl Bros. Inc.
  • Motion sensors • 4B Components Ltd.
  • Motors U.S. Motors
  • Speed reducers Dodge
  • Spreaders GSI/AgriDry
  • Steel storage GSI
  • Steel tank erection LoweCon LLC
  • Tower support system GSI

Reprinted from Grain Journal January/February 2018 Issue

TopFlight Grain Gallery

  • TopFlight Grain Bement Location
  • TopFlight Grain Atlanta Location
  • TopFlight Grain Monticello Location
  • Jacob Hunt
  • Cody Taylor and Jim Murphy

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