Tom Lyon was a leader in the A.I. industry, guiding his organization through a difficult time in the industry and leading the cooperative through many changes to emerge as one of the survivors and leaders in the dairy genetics industry. Tom entered the industry in 1967 when he joined Midwest Breeders Cooperative in the Public Relations Department. Tom's abilities were quickly recognized as he moved into areas of more responsibility in marketing and management, eventually becoming the General Manager of Midwest Breeders on in 1976 at the age of 36.
Early in Tom's career he was a strong supporter of farmer-owned cooperatives and the need for cooperation with other cooperatives. This led to numerous consolidations and mergers in the A.I. industry, and served as the basis for many of the organizations that Tom was involved with and provided leadership to throughout his career.
While Tom was responsible for numerous milestones and achievements in the industry, a few stand out when evaluating his accomplishments. Tom led the charge in the formation of Cooperative Resources International, which was the first of its kind organization in the U.S. combining an A.I. company (21st Century Genetics) and a DHIA company (Wisconsin DHIA). Formed in 1993, CRI showed that organizations with similar objectives of member service could combine in the U.S. and provide a more efficient model to provide products and services to its membership. Because of the formation of CRI, other A.I. organizations were able to join CRI and eventually form the A.I.
>cooperative Genex, and at the same time Wisconsin DHIA (now AgSource) was able to grow its business because of the expanded opportunities available to it.
Tom was also early in his recognition that the international marketplace would expand and become very competitive. In reaction to this, Tom led the decision to establish a CRI International Marketing Division with direct sales around the globe, and also set up a global development structure to utilize U.S. government funding in expanding the cooperative's business internationally. These moves set the stage for extensive growth in the CRI International Division after the turn of the century.
Around the world Tom has been respected for his knowledge and foresight of the industry, and in leading CRI and bringing new opportunities to the table. Within the A.I. industry, Tom served as a member of the NAAB Board, including three years as chairman, member of the CSS Board, as well as the World Dairy Expo Board and member of the Wisconsin Dairy Task Force.
In the cooperative community, Tom was a board member and chair of the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives, board member and chair of the National Cooperative Business Association, board member of Cooperative Business International, the Wisconsin Cooperative Development Council and the Cooperative Development Foundation. He was also a trustee for the Graduate Institute of Cooperative Leadership, the Cooperative Foundation, and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. In 2006, he was inducted in the Cooperative Hall of Fame.
In Tom's busy schedule he also served a member of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, including a term as President, and numerous committees in the state of Wisconsin related to dairy and agricultural development. Many times Tom has been previously recognized for his contributions to the industry, including being the Distinguished Dairy Science Department Graduate from Iowa
State University, the World Dairy Expo Dairy Industry Person of the Year, the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives Cooperative Builder Award,. and the Dairy Shrine Guest of Honor. --
Tom's visionary leadership for his own cooperative and the A.I. industry, as well as leadership to the cooperative community, the education and dairy industries, as well as his contribution to the state of Wisconsin, make him a deserving recipient for the NAAB Pioneer Award.