WESTBY, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R-Wisconsin) visited the Westby Cooperative Creamery Tuesday and awarded general manager Pete Kondrup with a plaque commending the business's 110 years in operation.
The creamery is owned by the farmers who produce the milk needed to churn out its products -- like cheeses and yogurts.
Farmers by a $10 certificate when they agree to sell milk to the creamery, said Loren Oldenburg, the president of the creamery's board of directors.
"A town like Westby, we depend on the farmers," Kondrup said.
Kleefisch praised the creamery's model as a successful one. It's experienced a boom in business in recent years. The creamery's sales have increased from $15 million in 2004 to $50 million in 2012.
"Most small businesses that begin fail within five years," Kleefisch said. "Now we're looking at a business that has succeeded for generations -- and for generations of co-op farmers."
The Westby Cooperative Creamery's latest expansion came in April 2012 when it built a new facility one mile up the road from its manufacturing plant that features offices and a 10-thousand square foot refrigerator.
Kondrup said the extra-large refrigerator has boosted the creamery's productivity.
"In the past we products in trailers," outside the manufacturing plant, Kondrup said. "We were very limited on cold storage."
"Now of course everything comes to the new building right off of manufacturing. It definitely helps out a lot. It's smoothed out our loading process," he said. "We can load a truck in less than a half hour now. It used to take an hour and a half to two hours."
Kondrup said the creamery has plans to keep growing. It would like to build a second production plant to supplement its current one, which Kondrup said could create another 40 to 50 jobs. He said the creamery would like to see that built in the next five to 10 year.
The continued expansion shouldn't come as a surprise.
Oldenburg said the creamery did not last 110 years without improvements and modifications along the way.
"New board members coming in and able to keep this thing running and having been here 110 years, not too many companies can do that," he said.
Oldenburg said the keys to the Westby creamery's success have been "good management, looking to the future... and always looking to improve."
He said roughly 170 farmers and families currently help to supply the co-op with milk.
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