Westby Cooperative Creamery held its annual meeting in the lower-level of Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Westby, Thursday, Jan. 18. In celebration of this occurrence, Wisconsin Assembly Rep. Lee Nerison presented a Proclamation from Gov. Scott Walker to Ralph Petersheim, board president of Westby Cooperative Creamery, proclaiming the city of Westby as “The Cottage Cheese Capital of Wisconsin”.

Westby Cooperative Creamery have won numerous national and international awards; including three 1st Place U.S. and World Gold Medals for Westby brand four-percent small curd cottage cheese. The proclamation honoring the creamy production of cottage cheese said, “Westby Cooperative Creamery is the leading innovator of cottage cheeses in the state of Wisconsin.

Nerison also presented a Certificate of Commendation honoring the business as it enters its 115th year of operation. This cooperative of local family dairy farms was officially formed in October of 1903. The commendation congratulated the member-owners of Westby Cooperative Creamery on their 115th Anniversary and wish them continued success in the future.”

In attendance at this annual meeting, representing the city of Westby, and joining the crowd in a rousing approval of the governor’s Commendation and Proclamation, were Westby Mayor Dan Helgerson and Westby Chamber of Commerce representatives, Mary Charles and Whitney Stoker.

Petersheim said, “On behalf of our member-owners, employees, our namesake founding city, and local residents; we proudly thank Gov. Walker for his Commendation and Proclamation; and, we thank Rep. Lee Nerison, a longtime resident of Westby, for his enthusiastic support of agriculture and our dairy industry, within his Assembly District and throughout the state of Wisconsin.”

The annual meeting then proceeded with presentations by independent financial auditors and business operations managers reporting to members on another year of continued sales growth for their cooperative dairy business. Total annual revenue grew by nearly $1 million to just under $74 million in FY-2017.

Over the past 10 years, annual business revenues have more than quadrupled for Westby Cooperative Creamery; growing from $17 million to now just under $75 million.

General Manager Pete Kondrup said he attributes this growth on the strength of relationships and shared respect between member-owners, employees, milk carriers, business suppliers and services partners, and the many communities of customers from within and around Westby Cooperative Creamery.

“The number of our family dairy farm patron-member-owners has doubled over the past 10 years to now 225 members,” Kondrup said. “These members supply two types of milk to their cooperative; conventional-milk and certified-organic-milk. This makes Westby Cooperative Creamery one of just a few dairy cooperatives across North America to receive both types of milk from its members; all of which is Grade-A and rBST-free.”

During FY-2017, the cooperative also introduced Westby Organic brand Cottage Cheeses, Sour Cream and French Onion Dairy Dip. In addition to Westby brand products, the business manufactures numerous private label brand, food service, food ingredient and specialty dairy products for an ever-expanding base of customers; and all meeting the stringent requirements of the SQF Code for food safety and quality as certified by the Food Safety & Quality Management System (Number 108139).

“This past year of 2017 marked the fifth year in our new distribution center,” Petersheim said. “Obviously, it was a major decision by the then Board of Directors, five years ago, to make this investment; along with the many other annual capital investments that have been made to our creamery manufacturing facility over the past several years to improve productivity, efficiency and safety.

“These investments have fueled our track record of growth; and we will continue to make such investments as part of our ongoing strategic and operational planning for the continued growth and success of our dairy cooperative business. As the Board of Directors, we thank our fellow member-owners, employees, business partners, and local communities, for their support of our family dairy farms and our cooperative principles.”

The annual meeting concluded with the election of two members to the seven-member Board of Directors. Current Board members Ryan Dunnum and Keith Rach were re-elected; joining Robert Anderson, Chuck Fremstad, Ralph Petersheim, Thomas Schaub and Art Thicke on the Board of Directors of Westby Cooperative Creamery for fiscal year 2018. At the first monthly meeting of this 2018 Board; officers will be elected for president, vice president and secretary/treasurer.

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Westby Times editor

Dorothy Robson is editor of the Westby Times. Contact her at 608-637-5625.

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