Klondike Cheese Co. expanding cheese production

Six master cheesemakers helping process

As it enters its second century of cheese-making, Klondike Cheese Co. is expanding its cheese production with the help of master cheesemakers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

According to a release, Klondike has an automated production line at its plant west of Monroe that will allow the company to raise production.

Klondike’s President Ron Buholzer said with an increased volume of production, the company will still need hand labor in the packaging area and expects no reduction in employment. It currently has more than 230 people on staff.Klondike Cheese Co. expanding cheese production

The Buholzer family can trace its roots to Swiss immigrants who settled in the area in the 1910s and started making cheese.

Currently, third- and fourth-generation Buholzers operate the 240,000-square-foot plant.

The new line will triple the output of brick, muenster and havarti cheese. Klondike already runs a production line for its major product, feta, which has its own label called Odyssey.

Six master cheesemakers certified by the UW-Madison’s Center for Dairy Research are leading the expansion. Bulhozer, along with his two brothers, David and Steve, attained master certification a couple years ago. More recently, Steve’s son, Adam; Steve’s son-in-law, Matt Erdley; and Ron Bechtolt received the certification.

The Master Cheesemaker’s Program was established in 1994 to expand expertise in cheese-making.

With more complexity in technology, food safety regulations and consumer preferences, Buholzer said there is a need for expertise.

“Plants have changed; they have become huge. In the day when I took over from my dad, you did everything, you knew about everything. You can’t know that much anymore,” says Buholzer.Klondike Cheese Co. expanding cheese production

The program is only open to cheesemakers with 10 years of experience, including five in the one or two varieties that will be their focus. Seven to 10 people enter the program each year, and it takes around three years to complete.

With the help of the master cheesemakers, Klondike took home 12 awards, including seven first-place ribbons at the American Cheese Society’s annual competition in Pittsburg.

“We have used CDR many times over the years, not only to solve problems but also to work out concepts. It’s a great relationship that will continue for years to come,” Erdley said.