Masters Gallery expansion latest cheesy good news

CHEESE CONTINUES TO BE good news for our area. The latest example came with the announcement by Masters Gallery Foods of their expansion plans last week.

The Plymouth-based company will build a new packaging and distribution facility in Oostburg. The plan is for a $30 million, 150,000-square foot building, with room for future expansion to as much as 350,000 square feet.

Groundwork and construction preparation at the site, with proximity to Interstate 43, is expected to begin next spring with occupancy by early 2018.

The first phase is expected to generate about 120 new jobs, with an additional 200 new jobs possibly from future expansions.

This major project follows closely on the heels of Masters Gallery’s completion of a major expansion of its complex in Plymouth.

That expansion, which began in 2012, nearly doubled the size of its plant on County PP. In all, the company’s production facilities there have grown from 40,000 square feet when it was first built in 1989 to about 310,000 square feet today – almost eight times as large.

That’s a long way from the company’s founding in 1974 by the late Leonard “Butch” Gentine as World Wide Sales, a small cheese brokerage firm doing business out of a storefront office on Mill Street in downtown Plymouth.

Today, Masters Gallery works out of a state-of-the-art facility on Plymouth’s southside on a picturesque campus that covers both sides of County PP east of State 67.

The company today includes industrial sales, retail and food service divisions, marketing more than 500 million pounds of top quality cheese around the world, including to China, Mexico and other corners of the globe.

It might have been nice to see those new 120-plus jobs located right here in Plymouth as well, but there was no room on the Masters Gallery campus to fit that large an expansion.

But the jobs will remain in Sheboygan County, and Masters Gallery deserves great credit for their continued commitment to the county and its people.

“We explored building out of state, but after a thorough analysis we determined that expanding in backyard was best. Maintaining our company culture is paramount, and the workforce in Wisconsin, particularly Sheboygan County, is second to none, especially when it comes to the dairy business. We can’t replicate that anywhere else,” was how Masters Gallery CEO and co-owner Jeff Gentine explained the decision to build in Oostburg.

He’s absolutely right. The cheese industry continues to grow in Sheboygan County and the surrounding area, for many reasons.

You could attribute it all to a healthy, steady appetite for cheese by the American consumer, but it’s obviously much more than that.

It’s first of all dedicated, passionate employees striving to make the best possible product that will not only meet consumer’s demands but also go beyond satisfying that – and their taste buds as well.

Then there’s innovative, forward-thinking management – many of whom represent second and third generations of family ownership that created and grew their companies – keeping their companies strong, securing them for hard times and positioning them for future growth.

And then there is the support of local government and officials providing the support, help and encouragement all of our cheese companies need to stay strong and get stronger.

All in all, that’s a lot of great cheese – and great news.

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