Doug Wilke, chief executive officer at Valley Queen Cheese Factory, Inc. sat down with Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA, to discuss Valley Queen's history of innovation and investment in the long-term growth of its employees in this episode of Dairy Innovator Dialogues.

Valley Queen Cheese Factory, Inc. was founded in 1929 by aspiring cheese makers Alfred Nef and Alfred Gonzenbach who were looking for a new home for their small Wisconsin cheese plant. The company has gone through many expansions over the years and this year is embarking ona $53 million expansion.

Wilke said innovation has played a major role in the company's growth.

"We have a couple facets to our innovation. When you look at some of the new technology and equipment innovation, we've done some pretty unique things in our process and our packaging area to meet the demands of today's customers, from a quality or traceability standpoint. When it comes to the finished product, what we're really focused on is helping our customers bring a product to the marketplace that there's consumer demand for. So a lot of times it can be a flavor or something that's got a nutritional benefit."

- Doug Wilke, chief executive officer, Valley Queen Cheese

Wilke said that oftentimes sustainability measures just come down to really good business practices.

"We're water neutral here. We harvest enough water out of the milk, through reverse osmosis systems and polishing systems, that we really don't use very much well water or city water. We're able to pull that water out of the milk and reuse it in the plant. "

- Doug Wilke, chief executive officer, Valley Queen Cheese

Wilke said Valley Queen also uses energy efficient LED lighting in the plant, a stack economizer in their new boiler, and a wastewater treatment plant that exceeds the regulatory requirements for discharge.

"A lot of it goes back to that Swiss heritage and that Swiss precision. So when you think about what we do here every day, the process starts up every day at the exact same time. Cheese goes to the table at exactly 9:18. And the willingness of the organization to embrace technology and precision has really been a huge part of our growth."

- Doug Wilke, chief executive officer, Valley Queen Cheese

Dairy Innovator Dialogues is a video and multimedia series presented by IDFA that goes behind the scenes with today‚Äôs most innovative dairy leaders and companies. View more from this series at idfa.org/dairyinnovates.