Name: Jim Frydenlund
Years with Westby: 10
Position: Maintenance Technician
Hello, I'm Jim Frydenlund. With skills I gained while working as a Maintenance Technician in the U.S. Air Force, and with an Associate's Degree from Western Wisconsin Technical College in the Electro-Mechanical Program, I have found that working as a Maintenance Technician in the manufacturing facility of Westby Cooperative Creamery is a great career fit for me.
Every day I get to apply my skills, education, and experience in helping to keep this complex and advanced dairy foods manufacturing plant operating safely, productively, and efficiently, and in compliance with numerous state and federal food manufacturing regulations. And, I get to do so while working with a great group of people.
My typical workday, Monday through Friday, begins at 7:00AM. My duties include installation, maintenance and troubleshooting of various processing and packaging equipment which involve pumps, motors, conveyors, agitators, heat sealers, coders and labelers, pneumatic and hydraulic systems, and temperature chart recorders.
I also handle chemical testing and blowdown of the boiler on a daily basis, plus changing of ventilation air filters and cleaning of refrigeration evaporators and condensers. I do ARC and TIC welding to repair or fabricate things as needed, along with plumbing of water and steam lines, calibration of the plant's confined-space gas meter, installation of electrical conduit and wiring, and snow removal. As you can imagine, every day is a busy day, because so much is going on in the Creamery from one end of the building to another.
I also am a Grade Level 4 Wastewater Operator and have been maintaining the Westby Cooperative Creamery Wastewater Pond System since May of 2006. This wastewater system serves to treat all of the water that is used to wash out vats, tanks, and equipment at the plant. At the wastewater ponds, I take daily checks of the water flow levels, test water pH, test the temperature and amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, and take samples for lab analysis.
I also complete a monthly report that is filed with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to ensure that our wastewater is meeting all regulated pollution control limits before leaving the pond system. I do love my trout fishing. So, this is more than just a job. I do have a vested interest to ensure we are sending clean water back into our environment.
One task I have each day includes checking the plant-facility boiler with tests on such things as alkalinity, conductivity, incoming water hardness, and sulfite levels. We keep a close eye on the quality of the water in the boiler to be sure the steam system pipes are protected from corrosion and scaling. This will ensure a long, healthy life for the entire boiler system which provides heat for milk pasteurization, hot water for cleaning equipment, and heat for the plant.
Another job-task I perform that is very important to overall product quality is the adjustment, and repair if needed, of the Pasteurizing Vat Temperature Chart Recording equipment in the main Product Processing Room. Proper pasteurization temperatures ensure that the products being processed in, and then leaving these vats, are consistent in quality and meet all food safety requirements.
Beyond routine daily duties and projects, there are a variety of other tasks performed to ensure that plant-facility systems and machinery run reliably every hour of every day. You can never guess where the next call for a repair or adjustment will take you. It may be that the 4-line packaging machine has a heat sealer that is not properly sealing the foil-lid onto the product cup due to a bad heater element; it could be an overhead door in the warehouse that is not opening due to a broken spring; or, it could be a pump that will not run due to a bad motor.
It can be fast paced, which I really do enjoy. This is a job such that keeps me on the move. Guess that's why the past ten years have gone by so quickly. And, it has been exciting to be part of the growth of this business over those years as well.
I really like how Westby Cooperative Creamery has been on a path of improvement and growth. The expansion and investment in new packaging machines, processing tanks, and other plant equipment are clear signs of a strong business moving in the right direction and adding new jobs. As production has steadily increased, our Maintenance Team itself has tripled in size since I first started here in March of 2005. And it is great to have the new people on board. I enjoy working with a group of very experienced maintenance technicians and other personnel.
I live in, and grew up in Westby. I have eaten Westby cheese and cultured dairy food products all my life. So, it is a matter of home-town-pride to do my best and to work hard in continuing the long history of Westby Cooperative Creamery in manufacturing the highest quality products. It always puts a smile on my face when I meet someone and tell them where I work, and they say -- "Westby cottage cheese is the best" or "I love your cheese curds."
Remember, when you -- take home country goodness from the family dairy farms and employees of Westby Cooperative Creamery - you take home country goodness from me -- Jim Frydenlund.
And for that, we all say THANKS!