Westby Cooperative Creamery Employee Profile

 

 

Name: Matt Lium

Years with Westby: 12

Position: Shipping Lead

 

Hello. I’m Matt Lium, and I work as a Shipping Lead in our new Distribution Center, which is located about one-mile northwest of our Creamery manufacturing facility in downtown Westby. This Distribution Center was built in 2012, and is a 10,000 square-foot refrigerated warehouse with four-high racking for storage of up to 1000 pallets of products.

 

Every product manufactured at our Creamery facility is first transported here to the Distribution Center, where customer orders are fulfilled and those products then prepared and palletized for shipment to a customer’s delivery location. Four truckloads of products arrive here each day from our Creamery, and from 15-to-20 trucks are loaded each day with customer orders for shipments across the country; from east to west and north to south.

 

That's a lot of trucks, and thousands of pounds of dairy food products each day, and every day, because our Creamery operates 24/7/365; just as our member-owners milk their cows and ship that milk to our Creamery every day of the year. This Distribution Center now ships customer orders six days a week.

 

We now manufacture and ship over 26-million pounds of dairy food products each year; including Cottage Cheeses, Yogurts, Sour Creams, Dairy Dips, Cheese Curds and Hard Cheeses. Some of these products may be packaged in individual containers from 6-ounce to 24-ounce in size, and then packed in units of six to twelve per case. The number of cases on a pallet can range from 84 to 448 cases depending on the size of the cups. Other products may be packaged in 5-pound containers, 30-to-40-pound plastic bags in boxes, 400-to-500-pound barrels, and up to 2500-pound re-usable plastic tote containers. Just imagine 2500-pounds of Yogurt in a single large tote container.

 

Many of these larger size containers are products going to a customer as ingredients to be used in other food manufacturing. For instance, Sour Creams that may be used as an ingredient in Salad Dressings; or, Yogurts to be used as an ingredient in parfaits, candies, or frozen treats; or, Dry Curd Cottage Cheese to be further processed into cheese fillings and cheese sauces.

 

My shift here at the Distribution Center is 2:00am to 10:00am, five days a week, Monday through Friday. When I’m not here, there are others who keep things operating during their work-shift time. The job includes tracking receipt of products shipped in daily from the Creamery, and fulfilling customer orders for shipment of products out of the Distribution Center. We process from 25-to-40 customer orders each day, which may range from a few pallets being loaded into a single truck; or, dozens of pallets being loaded into multiple trucks. We recently fulfilled a customer order that involved three truckloads of products.

 

Accurate record keeping is needed for inventory tracking within the Distribution Center, with this data then being used for product production planning at the Creamery. There are a lot of details to manage for inventory controls and fulfilling customer orders in picking products and loading and unloading trucks; and even more details in food product safety and human safety regulations to maintain, along with trucking transportation regulations. We are all proud of our records for safety, and our reputation for high quality products and customer satisfaction.

 

I enjoy the people that I work with, many of whom have also been here for ten or more years; and, we all care about what we do. For me, each day may have its routines; with products coming in and shipping out, and trucks being loaded and unloaded. Yet, each day flies-by because I’m busy and fully engaged in what I’m doing; and working as part of a team. I enjoy that. When a customer order ships out, to say New York state or California, I sometimes think about how that product will end up in the Dairy Case of a local grocery store; coming from the great Dairy State of Wisconsin.

 

I was born and raised here in Westby, with some of my grandparents and great-grandparents having been local farmers. That makes me the fifth generation of my family to reside here, with my kids being the sixth generation. As a local resident, the long history of Westby Cooperative Creamery is well known; having been in operation for over 100 years, since 1903.

 

After high school, I found work in the local area, and then jumped at the opportunity when a position opened-up here. As the story goes; I was at a local bowling alley, where some employees from Westby Cooperative Creamery were bowling. As a lane-to-lane conversation struck-up, they said that they were growing and hiring. So, I applied. That was twelve years ago. I started as a truck-loader, order-picker, and forklift operator.

 

During that timeline, I also got married. My wife, Ashley, is a local girl. We have two boys; Jase and Brekk. And, everyone in the family loves Westby brand Cheese Curds and Cottage Cheeses; which, I can easily bring home from my “office” nearby.

 

As the business grew, my opportunities for advancement also grew; along with educational opportunities. I’ve had classroom and online training for working with Excel spreadsheets and other computer programs, along with business operations and leadership training; and, a certificate course on Supervisory Management at UW-La Crosse.

 

Over the past 10+ years, our business has consistently grown. We have tripled in size on annual pounds of milk received from our member-owners, and in total pounds of dairy food products manufactured; tripled in revenues, and tripled in number of employees from 45 to more than 140. That’s a track record of growth that we are all very proud of; and to which we have all contributed to by doing our daily jobs, with dedication and teamwork.

 

Please remember, when you take home country goodness from the family dairy farms of Westby Cooperative Creamery – you also take home country goodness from me – Matt Lium – and my fellow employees.

 

And for that, we all say THANKS!

 

 

Other Westby Employee Profiles

 

 

 

 

Christopher Dach: Cheese Maker

Jim Frydenlund: Maintenance Technician

Steve Grabowski: Processing Operations Lead

Krissa Myhre: Customer Service Representative

John Schedivy: Field Representative

Lori Whitney: Machine Operator

Ryan O'Donnell: Assistant Plant Manager