The 2013 Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin's Managers Academy was held Jan. 15-17 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Cooley walt polo
Editor and Podcast Host / Progressive Dairy

More than 80 dairy owners, managers and consultants attended the three-day event, which featured talks from business experts Dr. Allan Gray of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business and Mike Scott of Mike Scott and Associates.

Click here to read PD Editor Walt Cooley's recap of some of Gray's comments.

Attendees also had the opportunity to attend three tours.

Leaders at Domino Sugar Refinery shared how they deal with challenges and crises and keep the business flowing smoothly.


012913_ma4 Motivatit Seafoods LLC has grown from a small harvesting operation to a multi-million dollar company that processes 60,000 pounds of oysters a day.

Attendees learned how one innovative change led to multiple others and how the company bounced back when demand for oysters by restaurants declined during the global recession.

Shell Robert Training & Conference Center teaches basic and advanced off-shore operations and safety skills to those on the front lines of oil and gas operations – Mobil, Exxon, BP and others.


The dairy industry can learn from the strategies and tactics Shell is taking to address sustainability, safety and respect for the environment as well as engage stakeholders.

—Information provided by PDPW. Photos by PD Editor Walt Cooley.

The tour’s first stop was the 103-year-old Domino


Sugar Refinery, which is the nation’s largest cane sugar refinery.

The plant, which is located in St. Bernard Parish in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, was flooded for more than five days after Hurricane Katrina in September 2005.


Producers learned about crisis management from the plant’s manager, Pete Maraia, who worked with his team to get the plant back online 98 days after the storm.


Jason Gilfour, corporate chef for Motivatit Seafood, tells dairymen how his company’s workers grade the oysters they harvest from the Gulf of Mexico.

The company sells gold-band oysters, fresh and frozen oysters-on-the-half-shell and frozen oyster meat.

Gilfour says the company has tried to automate the grading process before but has discovered humans, especially women, are much more accurate. Motivatit uses primarily H2A visa workers from central America.


A female employee at Motivatit Seafood loads a tray of oysters-on-the-half-shell into a flash freezer.

The company sells these frozen oysters to major retail outlets, such as Costco.


Sugar manufactured at the Domino refinery near New Orleans is sold under many different brand and generic labels in the U.S.


Steve McSherry, process manager at Domino Sugar Refinery, explains to dairy producers how his company’s plant refines raw cane sugar (sticky brown granules) from Louisiana, Texas, Florida and Mexico with water, carbon dioxide and heat.

The plant produces 40 million pounds of product per day.