Kokomo, IN | Certificate of Distinction: 2010
Mick Ortman is the Chairman of the Board of Kokomo Grain Co., Inc. He retired in 2003 as the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer. A native of Howard County, Ortman graduated from Purdue University in1951 with a B.S. in Agricultural Economics. After serving two years in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Korean Conflict, where he attained the rank of sergeant, he came home to Howard County in 1953 and began his career with what was then Kokomo Grain and Feed Company as a seasonal employee. He became sole owner of the family business in 1970.
Under Ortman’s leadership Kokomo Grain grew from a single feed mill with 12,000 bushels of storage to one of the largest privately held companies in Indiana, with seven locations in Indiana and three in Tennessee with 33 million bushels of storage. Originally a company that also sold fertilizer and feed, Kokomo Grain was also involved in producing swine breeding stock for pork producers. Ortman grew Kokomo Grain to its present size through innovation, revolutionizing the company by building flat storage buildings for inexpensive long-term commercial storage of grain and erecting fast, efficient grain dryers. He was also the first in the nation to build unit train loaders at his primary locations, dramatically altering the grain business landscape and opening up broader markets to local farmers. Ortman is also the sole owner of Winamac Southern Railway Co., a 52-mile short line railroad serving Howard, Cass and Carroll counties, primarily for agricultural clients. He has also been in instrumental in buying and rehabilitating other endangered Indiana rail segments. Ortman’s commitment to retaining quality of stored grain has built a premium market for Kokomo Grain’s products, many for human consumption, adding value for the Indiana farmers who are his customers. Over the years he worked closely with many Purdue Agriculture departments to fund and evaluate research to improve grain drying and storage techniques, at one point making his swine farm available to Purdue’s Animal Sciences Department to conduct on-farm feeding studies.
Ortman has served the grain industry in many organizations including: Indiana Grain and Feed Association (Chairman); Agribusiness Council of Indiana; Grain Elevator and Processing Society; and the American Short Line Railroad Association. He has been an active board member of the National Grain and Feed Association, serving on the Executive, Grain and Feed, Rail Shipper and Receiver, and Country Elevator committees. He was instrumental in forming the Agribusiness Council of Indiana and its political action committee (PAC).
Locally Ortman served many years on the advisory board for Indiana University-Kokomo and the St. Joseph Hospital Governing Board (Finance Committee), and he is a former board member of Union Bank. He is a former member of the Purdue University College of Agriculture Dean’s Advisory Council. Other organizations he has served include: Kokomo Rotary, Kokomo/Howard County Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Community Foundation of Howard County, Howard County Historical Society and Boy Scouts of America-Sagamore Council. His memberships also include the Elks Club and the Kokomo Country Club. He is an active parishioner at St. Patrick Church in Kokomo and a supporter of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Tipton.
In December 2009, Ortman was honored with the Distinguished Hoosier Award by Gov. Mitch Daniels.