Bechard said they eventually joined Great Western Malting in 2007, and he still runs Country Malt Group from the Champlain location. They have about 90 employees at eight North American locations.
The various locations allow the company to ship to their customers within a two-day window at pallet prices, which helps reduce costs for their clients.
“Not long in, we knew our model was sound,” he said.
Grain Corp., based in Australia, purchased the companies in 2009. Bechard said they expanded the Country Malt Group model to the other North American locations in 2009-10.
“We are one of the largest suppliers in North America to the craft brewing industry,” Bechard said.
The craft brewing industry continues to grow by about 10 percent a year, he said, but is only now approaching the number of regional brewers that existed prior to Prohibition.
The Champlain plant operates about 16 hours a day. Most of the production work takes place on the day shift, and most of the order preparation work at night.
Malt from Canada comes into the facility and is placed on a line that uses a system of paddles to move it into one of the six large metal hoppers outside the building. That causes less damage than if they used air to move the malt.
Bechard said they bring in one to two container loads a day to Champlain, and have about 60 containers on the move across North America at any given time.
The company also mills some malt in Champlain, about 15 tons a day.
They spent well more than $1 million to upgrade the facility a couple years ago. That includes a robotic arm that moves filled bags from the line to a pallet.
Plans call for a automated shrink-wrap machine to be added, Bechard said.
The hops are kept in cold storage, at about 32 degrees. The angled racks allow the next box to move forward as each order is packed.