It was a family business that Tom Diener and his brother George took over from their father Walter, and it was a family business that Tom Diener turned over to the next generation when he retired from Diener Seeds, Inc. in December 1997. Diener's business achievements are matched by 50 years of exemplary service to the seed industry and to his community.
Tom Diener officially joined his father's farming operation and seed company in 1950. In 1958 Tom and George phased out their dairy and livestock operations and expanded the seed company which they led together until George's death in 1985. Diener Seeds was an industry innovator, and the plant they built in 1958 was one of the most modern in the industry. In 1969 the company patented the Quali-Kote process and Diener Seeds became the first in Indiana to offer seed treatment for protection during long, cold, wet springs. In 1975 the company introduced its private line of DB soybean varieties. And in 1987, Tom added hybrid seed corn to his product line so that his sales force could offer a full line of seed to their customers.
When Diener retired, his company had annual sales nearing $10 million, with major distribution centers in Reynolds, Indiana and Hudson, Illinois and about 35 other warehouses throughout Indiana and Illinois. The Diener Family Farm operation covers more than 1,300 acres, mainly in soybeans and corn for seed production. Other growers produce nearly 10,000 acres of seed for Diener Seeds.
Of Diener's service to the industry, Alan Galbreth of the Indiana Crop Improvement Association (lCIA) said, "Tom has always made time to serve others." Diener served ICIA as a board member and president. He also has served on the board of Public Varieties of Indiana. A long time member of the Seed Improvement Committee of the Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association, Diener is currently a board member of the Ag Alumni Seed Improvement Association, Inc.
Diener was a charter member of the Indiana Seed Trade Association (ISTA), was member of the ISTA board of directors and was chairman of the ISTA Soybean Committee. Diener is also a member of the American Seed Trade Association, the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Institute, the Independent Pro¬fessional Seedsmen Association, and the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.
Diener has worked with Purdue University on many projects. He was a cooperator in disease plots including phytophtora.
Diener served on the Appropriation Committee and participated in the Conservation Reserve Education program which developed best management practices for putting Midwest CRP acreage back into production. Diener has hosted the Indiana Farm Management Tour, Purdue's People to People Tour, Indiana Department of Commerce Tour and the Area IX P-CARET Legislative Update.
Diener has volunteered his time to support conservation groups such as Pheasants Forever, S.A.F.E. Club and the White County SWCD. He has been a devoted supporter of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Reynolds, serving in many capacities including membership on the cemetery board. For several years he also served on the board of directors of the Bank of Reynolds. Diener was honored inl996 by ICIA with its highest honor, the Crops and Soils Merit Award. Governor Frank Q'Bannon hailed him in 1998 as a Sagamore of the Wabash, the governor's highest honor for private citizens of Indiana.