Washington Business Fall 2019 | Washington Business | Page 22

what’s working You May Not Know Their Name, but You’ve Tasted Their Work How a Vancouver company uses innovation to improve the environment and build workplace culture. Niki Reading Great Western Malting embarked on a challenge four years ago to improve on the ancient process of malting barley for beer. The result led to breakthrough innovations in water conservation, and pride in the workplace. At A Glance Great Western Malting has been producing malt in Vancouver since the end of Prohibition. About four years ago, the company embarked on a challenge to improve the malting process and reduce water use. As a result of its efforts, Great Western Malting reduced water usage by 98 percent, reduced power usage by more than 35 percent and created the Malt Innovation Center where customers can experiment with new varieties of beer. In 2018, AWB awarded Great Western Malting the Manufacturing Award for green manufacturing. 22 association of washington business Andrew Gibb, plant manager at Great Western Malting in Vancouver, looks over a line of steeping tanks where the barley kernels are moistened as part of the malting process. “After steeping, the grain begins to come alive,” he said. About four years ago, Mike O’Toole and his team at Great Western Malting in Vancouver started brainstorming how to improve the 4,000-year-old process of malting barley for beer. Those conversations sparked innovation with impact: A company that’s been producing malt since the end of Prohibition reduced water usage by 98 percent, reduced power usage by more than 35 percent, and created the Malt Innovation Center, where customers can tinker with experimental beers. “We’ve been on a journey as a company in terms of what we can do with investment in process — to challenge how we do things,” says O’Toole, president of Great Western Malting. The company was awarded the 2018 AWB Manufacturing Excellence Award for green manufacturing. Great Western Malting may not be a household name, but if you’ve had a Pacific Northwest-made beer in your lifetime, you’ve tasted their work: The company has been at the Port of Vancouver since the 1930s and supplies malt to thousands of craft breweries in the region, from Deschutes and Widmer to startup garage brewers.