Contributing Authors

Meet the Fresh off the Cob Blog contributing authors!

Riley Didion, President at Didion Milling

Riley joined Didion Milling in 2012 to spearhead new market development for Didion’s specialty products. His focus is on targeting untapped industries and growing partnerships with current and potential customers. Riley has degree in management from the University of North Florida. He previously served as Vice President for the [corporate real estate] firm Grubb & Ellis|PRG.

Dow Didion, Advisory Board Member at Didion Milling

Dow Didion has immense experience in fixed asset additions and his vast engineering experience has improved the efficiency of both the ethanol plant and the dry corn mill exponentially.  Dow, one of the founders of Didion Milling, entered the grain merchandising business with his brother John back in 1972 and grew the business from one location to eight within a span of 25 years.  Dow played a crucial role in the decision to focus solely on the milling operations and had an integral part in the building of both the Cambria mill and Courtland ethanol facility.

John Didion, Advisory Board Member at Didion Milling

John is the CEO of Didion Milling, Inc. and its four businesses, working to maximize the value of corn for more than 40 years. Didion Milling has grown its domestic food ingredient and industrial products businesses through ethanol production, the HarvestGold Family of Corn Products and is one of the largest suppliers to the U.S. government for third-world food aid programs.

John has served on the Board of Directors for several organizations including the North American Miller’s Association, Renewable Fuel Association and the Wisconsin Bio-Industry Alliance,plus involvement in various grain associations.


John Deininger, Quality Assurance Manager at Didion Milling

John is responsible for the quality and food safety function of the corn milling operation.  John’s role includes oversight of raw materials, work-in-process, and finished products. In addition, he provides training in food safety and quality topics to Didion employees as well as technical assistance to customers.  Prior to joining Didion, John worked at Nestle and Interbake Foods in quality assurance, technical assistance, and manufacturing operations.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison with B.S and M.S. degrees in bacteriology.

Jeff Dillon, VP of Sales & Marketing at Didion Milling

Jeff Dillon, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Didion Milling, Inc., is responsible for all of the finished corn product sales, both industrial and food grade.  His extensive background in agribusiness has included working with ADM Milling; the world’s largest milling company with operations in the US, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the UK for 20 years. His milling knowledge, management skills, and ability to improve company profitability are highly regarded in the industry.  He was a key player in negotiating strategic alliances for ADM; progressing through the organization to become the Vice President and General Manager in 2000.  He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Kansas and is a member of the North American Millers’ Association.

Garry Gard, Grain Manager at Didion Milling

As Grain Manager, Garry manages the Cambria grain elevator operations and grain originations.  He has a bachelor of science degree in Agricultural Business Marketing/Management with a Minor in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Prior to joining Didion Milling, Garry spent four years with Archer Daniels Midland as an assistant grain elevator manager where he managed the elevator employees, supervised grain shipments, managed the daily commodity positions and specialty grain programs.


Karyn Hickman, Customer Service Manager at Didion Milling

Karyn is currently managing our Finished Products Customer Service department and reports to our VP of Sales.  She earned her degree in Marketing and Public Relations from Metropolitan State College of Denver, Colorado.  She has an extensive background in event planning and has worked as a Director of Development across the country including Florida, Arizona, and Colorado raising over $1 million dollars collectively for various non-profit organizations.  As a Special Event Coordinator, she has organized many fundraisers, celebrity events, and national ad campaigns.

Justin Koopmans, Feed Sales Representative and Grain Merchandiser at Didion Milling

As a Cambria native Justin started working at Didion in 2008 after graduating from UW-Platteville. Justin started at Didion as an ethanol loadout supervisor, but is currently working in two different positions. Justin is a grain merchandiser and the feed sales rep currently for Didion Milling. Besides working closely with our producers, Justin enjoys raising steer and cash crop on the side.

Adam Lemmenes, Didion Ethanol Plant Manager at Didion Milling

Adam’s role includes overseeing the operations, maintenance, and Lab Departments. Planning, Organizing, and leading the staff to generate the most return on the plants assets are top priority.  Finding new technology and looking at different ways to do things is embraced by Adam’s team.   Adam worked for several years at United Wisconsin Grain Producers prior to joining Didion Ethanol during the construction phase. Before his employment in the ethanol industry, he worked in the Cheese Making Industry which has allowed him to take some of those best industry practices and implement them in the ethanol process.

Shawn Mesner, Food Safety & Technical Superintendent at Didion Milling

Shawn is responsible for supervising food safety of the corn milling operation – maintaining and helping to improve our food safety, pest control and sanitation programs.  Shawn’s role also helps support the QA department with supplier documentation and other technical requests within the department.  Shawn is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology.  After graduating, Shawn worked for Bausch & Lomb Pharmaceuticals as a Quality Control Chemist and Administrative Assistant.  He started in the food industry four years ago and has worked for Oscar Meyer and Y Not Foods as a quality auditor.  Shawn started in the QA lab as a lab technician, advanced to Quality Assurance Technical Specialist and before becoming the Food Safety & Technical Superintendent.


Shawn Nelson, Ph.D., Didion Ethanol R&D Manager at Didion Milling

Shawn graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Microbiology.  After receiving his undergraduate degree, Shawn went on to study microbial motility at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he earned a Ph.D.  Following his time in Milwaukee, Shawn moved on to the USDA Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, WI, working on cellulosic ethanol production. Shawn joined Didion as a Senior Research Scientist working on process improvement and on incorporating novel ideas from lab scale to production scale.  Now as the R&D Manager, Shawn leads a diverse group of employees as they continuously make improvements in existing processes and products with an eye toward new product development.

Brenda Oft, Grain Merchandiser at Didion Milling

As a grain merchandiser at Didion Brenda works closely with our producers to help procure grain for processing, as well as provide a competitive market for our producer’s grain. Brenda started at Didion Milling eight years ago after graduating from UW Platteville. Brenda graduated with a degree in agriculture business with an emphasis in marketing and communication.

David Silver, Corporate Controller and USDA Program Coordinator at Didion Milling

David started at Didion in 2005 as a financial analyst and now works as Corporate Controller and USDA Program Coordinator. As corporate controller he focuses on many of Didion’s financial decisions, as well as the growth and management of the accounting staff. As USDA Program Controller, David is the primary contact for the USDA, USAID, and other aid partners. He works to build relationships with the food aid supply chain, and within Didion to develop and commercialize humanitarian aid products. Coordination and communication of rail, ocean, and other transportation methods is also a very important aspect of his job at Didion Milling. David graduated from Marquette University with a degree in accounting.

Tonya Umbarger, Program Manager at Didion Milling

Tonya focuses on continuous improvement of management systems, leading corporate sustainability initiatives, and developing great people at Didion. She managed the contractual requirements of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant and the implementation team to achieve Food Safety Management System certification (FSSC 22000). Tonya has a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Marketing from Edgewood College.  Prior to joining Didion, she was a senior project analyst with CPS Human Resource Services.


One thought on “Contributing Authors

  1. Pingback: Corn Milling 101 Part 1: A fresh look at corn milling | Fresh off the Cob

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