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Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association Opens Registration For CheeseExpo Global Online 2021, Names Industry Leaders

Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association Opens Registration For CheeseExpo Global Online 2021, Names Industry Leaders

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

It’s that time of the year again! No, not Christmas, but it might as well be, as the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) has opened up registration for the CheeseExpo Global Online 2021. And on top of that, the association’s Board of Directors has named nine individuals to be recognized at the event for their outstanding work in the dairy processing industry.

John Umhoefer, Executive Director, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association“CheeseExpo Global Online 2021 is a can’t-miss event, offering the same high-quality educational programming, industry recognition, and expansive show floor you’ve come to expect, but in a virtual format,” said Executive Director John Umhoefer.

WCMA has partnered with the Center for Dairy Research to develop the event, which features leading industry experts addressing key topics, according to a press release. With seminars in dairy policy and pricing, cheese quality, COVID, workforce solutions, and marketing, the expo caters to growing businesses in the cheese category.

Judy Keller, Events Director, Wisconsin Cheese Makers AssociationThere’s something for everyone at CheeseExpo Global Online, from the CEO to the packaging supervisor,” said Events Director Judy Keller. “Make plans now to join us, and–with no travel or accommodations to arrange–consider inviting a broad cross-section of your valued staff.”

As members enjoy the event, they will also see dairy leaders honored for their dedication to the industry.

Mark Schleitwiler, Vice President of Finance, BelGioioso CheeseMark Schleitwiler will receive the association’s highest honor: the WCMA Life Member Award, of which Schleitwiler will be the 90th recipient. The award recognizes people who have played a significant role in the success of WCMA through leadership, support, and service to the institution and its activities.

Schleitwiler now serves as an industry consultant, most recently having worked as Director for Wohlt Cheese, which is a division of Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery. Throughout his career in the industry, he has worked at BelGioioso Cheese, where he began as Operations Manager, eventually working his way up to Vice President of Operations, Vice President of Finance, and then Vice President of External Relations.

Schleitwiler is a longtime and active member of WCMA, having served several terms on WCMA’s Board of Directors, including as President from 2010–2012 and as Treasurer from 2009–10. He also participates in WCMA’s Technology and Policy Committees and continues to support WCMA outreach efforts.

The press release went on to note that John Jeter and Don Menzner will be recognized as the 2021 WCMA Cheese Industry Champions, awards that are given to industry leaders who have created tremendous opportunity for others in the industry.

John Jeter, Retired Chief Executive Officer, Hilmar Cheese CompanyJohn Jeter served as CEO of Hilmar Cheese Company for 31 years. He has grown Hilmar Cheese Company exponentially, focusing on research, technology, and staff excellence. Before his retirement in 2015, Jeter completed construction of a second production plant in Texas, and established Hilmar Cheese as a major dairy exporter.

Don Menzner, Retired Chief Executive Officer, Marathon Cheese CorporationDon Menzner joined Marathon Cheese Corporation in 1960 as a packaging line worker, later advancing to the position of Director of Purchasing. By the early 1980s, Menzner became Vice President of Operations. In 1990, he was named President, and in 1996 accepted the position of CEO. He also served as a Board Member for the National Cheese Institute and National Cheese Exchange. Before his retirement from Marathon Cheese Corporation in 2001, Menzner received the National Cheese Institute Laureate Award. Menzner is credited with innovative cheese shredding and packaging methods that transformed the way cheese was sold throughout the country.

Craig Linz and Jerry Lippert have been selected for the WCMA Distinguished Service Award, which is reserved for respected and highly valued supplier partners to the cheese manufacturing industry.

Craig Linz, Customer and Category Manager, Tetra PakPrior to his passing in July 2020, Craig Linz was known and respected across the dairy industry for his service and integrity. Linz served the industry in numerous roles, while rising through the ranks at Tetra Pak, and its predecessors Carlisle Process Systems and Scherping Systems. Linz served four years as a member on the WCMA Board of Directors, and was active in the WCMA Recognition and Contest Committees. Linz earned the Eggebrecht Award in 2020 for his service to WCMA’s Championship Cheese Contests.

Jerry Lippert, President, Nelson-JamesonJerry Lippert started his 17-year career in paper distribution with roles including sales and purchasing and general management with Great Northern Nekoosa Corporation and Georgia Pacific. Since 1992, Lippert has held several important roles with Nelson-Jameson before becoming President in 2002. Lippert continues to focus on growing Nelson-Jameson, and mentoring the next generation of leadership. He is an active member of the WCMA Recognition Committee.

Dr. Bob Cropp and Marianne Smukowski will receive the WCMA Babcock Award, which recognizes the contributions of those in education or affiliate organizations partnering with cheesemakers in the pursuit of dairy industry innovation and excellence.

Bob Cropp, Professor Emeritus, Department of Agriculture, University of Wisconsin-MadisonDr. Cropp is a Professor Emeritus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. Prior to retirement, he was the Dairy Marketing and Policy Extension Specialist and Director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, and has been with the University of Wisconsin System since August 1966.

Marianne Smukowski, Dairy Safety and Quality Coordinator, Center for Dairy Research, University of Wisconsin-MadisonSmukowski worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Land O’Lakes before creating her own unique position at the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was Dairy Safety and Quality Coordinator. She is also the technical adviser for the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker program, and the 2019-20 President of the American Cheese Society. Smukowski has also served as a judge for the WCMA World and U.S. Championship Cheese Contests.

Steve Buholzer and Ray Palubicki will receive the WCMA Vanguard Award is intended to recognize cheesemakers or cheese manufacturing employees whose work helped to blaze new trails in dairy operations.

Steve Buholzer, Master Cheesemaker, Klondike CheeseThird-generation cheesemaker Steve Buholzer grew up at Klondike Cheese Company. Along with his brothers Ron and Dave, Buholzer took over the family business in 1972. Buholzer is a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker, with certifications in feta and muenster. He is credited with bringing Klondike Cheese Company to new levels with state-of-the-art equipment, specially crafted recipes and by honoring the great traditions of cheesemaking.

Ray Palubicki, Retired Plant Manager, Outagamie Producers CooperativeRay Palubicki started working in the cheese industry as a teenager in 1950. Less than a decade later, he became the head cheesemaker at the Outagamie Producers Cooperative. Palubicki served as Production Manager from 1967–1990, and as Plant Manager until his retirement in 1999. In addition to creating several award-winning cheese recipes, Palubicki led his plant through an acquisition by Alto Dairy, and transitioned it to fully automated cheddar cheese production, the first facility of its kind in the Midwest.

The CheeseExpo Global Online is currently offering $100 off its registration rates, for a limited time only. Dairy manufacturers and processors may access the event for free.

For more updates on the biggest events in the industry, keep a tab open for Deli Market News.

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