About WMC Laboratory Services, Inc.

Most of the activity at the Wheat Marketing Center falls within our non-profit educational and research mission. In response to requests from customers for confidential services, however, WMC Laboratory Services Corporation, a for-profit entity, was established to conduct proprietary research and product development, lab analysis and training.

WMC Lab Services provides a range of services including quality testing; cracker/biscuit, Asian noodle, tortilla, and other product development on our pilot scale production lines; and customized training for technical staff. Under a lease agreement, WMC Lab Services reimburses Wheat Marketing Center for facility and staff use. WMC Lab Services is governed by a separate board of directors.

Thank You for Your Service
Retired Board Members

Brian O'Toole

Brian O’Toole
North Dakota Wheat Commission

WMC Lab Services Board of Directors

Tom Zelenka

Tom Zelenka, Chairperson

Tom Zelenka’s entire professional career has involved local, state, national and international public policy issues, both in the public and private sectors.  Tom spent over 25 years with the Schnitzer Group of companies as the Vice President of Environmental and Public Affairs. Before that, he served twelve years as the Government Manager of the Port of Portland and five years as the Legislative Director for a Texas State Representative.

Tom is a founding member and former Chairman of the WMC Board of Directors. Tom helped to develop the public/private partnership to renovate the Albers Mill Building and to secure the federal funding grants under the leadership of U.S. Senator Mark O. Hatfield and numerous state wheat growers and agencies. Tom has been an active member of the board since 1988 and currently chairs the two subsidiary boards — WMC Lab Services, Inc. and WMC Title Holding Company, Inc.

Tom observes that WMC provides critical technical services and a strategic focus for U.S. wheat and affiliated agricultural export interests. It is recognized domestically and globally for providing credible, reliable, cutting edge scientific research to meet current and future industry and consumer needs.  WMC Lab Services meets a particular demand for proprietary services that encompass analytical testing, custom training courses, and focused product development.

Marcia Walker, Secretary
Food Innovation Center, Oregon State University

Marcia Walker joined the WMC Laboratory Services Board as Dave Stone’s successor in 2023. Walker is a 2003 PhD graduate from the College’s Food Science and Technology department from Oregon State University.  Marcia joined the Oregon State University Food Innovation Center from Greenleaf Foods, where she served as Director since 2021. Spearheading processing, manufacturing, and commercialization she oversaw a team of innovative food scientists introducing more than 11 new products to market. Prior to her time at Greenleaf, she also held leadership positions at Tofurky, PepsiCo, Starbucks, and Avomex.

Dr. Jim Peterson
Idaho Wheat Commission

Dr. Jim Peterson joined the WMC Laboratory Services board in 2023. He currently serves as a research consultant for the Idaho Wheat Commission. Dr. Peterson is uniquely experienced in all facets of wheat improvement, from strategies and practicalities of modern breeding, innovative public and private collaborations, end-use quality research, to managing variety release, IP, and production for commercial impact.

From 2010 to 2021, Peterson served as VP for Research for Limagrain Cereal Seeds, responsible for wheat research and breeding strategies, staffing, and implementation of new technologies. Dr. Peterson also managed research activities for the LCS sister company Limagrain Cereals Research Canada, which he helped launch in 2015.

From 1998 to 2010, Dr. Peterson was Professor of Wheat Breeding and Genetics with Oregon State University (OSU) and held the W.E. Kronstad Endowed Chair for Wheat Research. While with OSU, he was recipient of the Weatherford Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the OSU College of Business; and the Above and Beyond and Distinguished Service Awards from The Oregon Wheat Growers League. He has also served as Chair of the National Wheat Improvement Committee. Prior to 1998, he was with USDA-ARS in Lincoln, NE, as Research Agronomist, wheat breeder, and coordinator of the HRW Regional Nursery program.

Steve Wirsching

Steve Wirsching
U.S. Wheat Associates

Steve Wirsching is Vice President and Director of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), West Coast Office located in Portland, Oregon.  Steve has served US wheat producers for over 25 years in various positions and capacities with USW.  He joined USW in 1992 as Assistant Director, West Coast Office, and in 1997 became Assistant Regional Director for the South American region in Santiago, Chile.  In 1998, Steve transferred to Mexico City, as Assistant Regional Director where he helped to open a new office.  In May of 2009, he moved to Portland, Oregon to serve as the Director of the West Coast Office, where he was promoted to Vice President in 2011.  The West Coast office provides market development support services for the 15 USW offices worldwide.  Steve’s responsibilities include building customer relations, supporting market development programs with a focus on wheat quality, purchase specifications and supply chain management.  He also works closely with the 18 state wheat commissions and is a liaison with the U.S. grain export trade.  Steve has traveled extensively and is fluent in Spanish, having lived in Latin America for more than 12 years.  

Prompted by the need for technical service, a coalition of like-minded agriculture groups, including USW and the Oregon Wheat Commission, worked to secure a $6.5 million federal grant to create the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) in 1989.  This market development effort was championed by the wheat industry and Oregon’s own Senator Mark Hatfield.

Over the last three decades, WMC has become a leader in the area of Asian product knowledge with the noodle pilot plant and reached new levels of technical service with the installation of a pilot cracker and biscuit line.  WMC, working with USW, has introduced Asian style noodles in Nigeria and Central America, creating additional demand for U.S. origin wheats.   WMC is a non-profit  research and teaching institution, conducting several independent short courses as well as hosting workshops that promote the quality and end use functionality of U.S. wheat for overseas customers, the U.S. domestic industry and for wheat producers alike.

Ex-Officio Members

Ron Williams

Ron Williams
Idaho Wheat Commission

Ron currently holds the position of Vice President at Columbia Grain where he has worked for more than 30 years. Ron has spent the majority of his career trading wheat, both domestically and internationally. He currently has oversight responsibilities over the international grain trading. He has a B.S. in Business Administration from Oregon State University and an M.B.A. from Portland State University. Ron currently lives in Portland, Oregon, USA with his wife Debbie and their twin daughters, Ashley and Heather. Over the years he has gained valuable experience in international trading, contract negotiation, market analysis, inventory management, operations, processing, logistics and customer relations.

Ron has been involved with the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) for most of his career and on the board since 2013. He currently chairs the Human Resources Committee. According to Ron, WMC is a valued partner of the U.S. wheat industry. The education and research functions performed by WMC staff do a great job of promoting the use of U.S. wheat around the world. Ron recalls that when he began his career at Columbia Grain there was a very wide disconnect between the producers and the milling and baking end users. WMC has done a fantastic job of narrowing this gap through education of all groups along the supply chain. The United States is the leader in supplying quality wheat to the world but is in a constant battle against lower-cost competitors. Looking forward, the industry will continue to rely on the Wheat Marketing Center to help demonstrate to the world the true value of U.S. wheat.