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With four years under our belts, Proximity is no longer the ‘new’ kid on the North American malt industry scene. And so, as the world enters the third decade of the 21st century – Proximity Malt, while still young, has grown into a confident, respected malt supplier, poised for a future of healthy growth.
In 2017, Proximity Malt established itself as the first regional, full-scale malthouse in North America. We began with a model for a sustainable, domestic supply of European style malting grains, more appropriate for all malt brewing. We designed and implemented state-of-the-art technology in both Delaware and Colorado in order to exceed expectations regarding quality, consistency and scalability.
Most importantly, we re-imagined our commitment to our customers: regardless of their size, we would provide customers new levels of technical support, overall service and economic value. In keeping with our plan, in 2020 we met important milestones to our mission.
COVID Safety – The challenges of 2020 were unique to the pandemic, and the safety of our people was of utmost importance. And so, from the inception of the COVID-19 threat, we responded quickly with new operating procedures. As a result, many of these practices are now permanent, setting a new high standard of safety in our workplace.
Positive Release – With more functional bins on line, we are now able to provide positive release on all Delaware products before packaging.
Resource Efficiency – Our Delaware malthouse is powered by 100% renewable electrical energy.
Sustainability – 100% of our barley ‘wash’ water from steeping in Laurel goes to a local farm within five miles of the malthouse, where it’s applied as crop irrigation and aquifer regeneration.
Expanded Product Line –The Milwaukee-based pilot version of our GKV* malthouse and Continuous Coil roasting technology drives innovation at Proximity: For example, in 2020, we introduced new malts, including Prox Red, Prox Mild, Prox Crystal Vienna Style 20, Prox Crystal Munich Style 60, Malted Oats, with plans for several more in 2021. Addtionally, brewers can source their favorite adjunct material through Proximity.
Expanded acreage for Two Row Winter Barleys – Proximity leads the way in introducing two row winter barleys into new micro-regions that are uniquely suitable to reap the benefits these varieties bring. In 2020, we expanded acres into northern Texas, central Colorado, and western Kansas where growers can benefit from winter barley’s regenerative qualities. Growers appreciate its positive impact on soil health, and the additional crop it allows for in an annual rotation.
Strengthened relationships with farm partners – Partnerships such as the one we’ve developed with Harborview Farms portend the future of North American malting barley. Notably, in 2020, we tripled our contracted acreage commitment of land under regenerative practices. Interested in more on malting barley and regenerative ag? Listen to Trey Hill–fifth generation owner of Harborview Farms’– on the ‘Reversing Climate Change’ podcast (#59).
Renewed commitment to Customers – In 2020, our sales team grew from 6 to 10 regional representatives. In addition, we continued expansion of our unique distribution model, bringing Proximity Malt closer to more brewers around the country. We now have distributor relationships in 10 US states**. Geographic proximity matters, since more comprehensive distribution shortens lead time, and ensures both greater order accuracy and customer service responsiveness. And, in a positive outcome of COVID times, we’ve brought our technical support directly to the brewery with our virtual malthouse tour, and other malt-related educational content.
The words of Yogi Berra come to mind: “The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be!,’ as we wrap up one of the strangest, least predictable 12 months in recent decades. So, here’s to 2021 – Surely, it’ll also be a year like none before, but we hope for an end to the pandemic, and a return to a productive, more predictable business climate in the ever-evolving world of malt and brewing.
NOTE: With the passing of Dave Kuske in November, we lost a treasured colleague and friend. The story of Proximity Malt resounds with the work and insights Dave brought to his work. All of us who had the pleasure of working alongside him these past few years continue to see the fruits of his labors, and know in our hearts that our small team won’t be quite the same without him.
*GKV – Germination-Kiln Vessel
St. Louis, MO
San Antonio, TX
North Bergen, NJ
East Coast – Kent, OH