Brewster Cheese: An Immigrant Success Story
Local Company Makes a Third of All Swiss Cheese in America
December 29, 2013 - To Swiss cheese lovers everywhere, and that means anywhere in this country, if you bought a block of Swiss cheese recently, there’s a one in three chance it was made by Brewster Cheese. That’s right; a third of all Swiss cheese in America is made by Brewster Cheese.
A true immigrant success story, Brewster Cheese has direct ties to Switzerland through Swiss native John Leeman who started working at Stark County Milk Producers in the early 1930’s.
Over thirty years later, Brewster Cheese was born when John and his son Fritz purchased the plant and renamed it Brewster Dairy. Fritz Leeman is the current CEO and owner of Brewster Dairy, Inc.
“We like to be known as Brewster Cheese because the first thing most people ask is, ‘where are the cows’?” Leeman said. “We do not have any cows of our own. We are solely a cheese and cheese by-product manufacturer.All of our milk comes from local farms and co-ops,” he added.
The Brewster Ohio’s 160,000-square-foot operation is housed in three different buildings on 50 acres of property on the south side of Brewster, Ohio, where the corporate offices are also located. There are about 180 full time employees at the Brewster operation.
The cheese plant produces over 40 million pounds of Swiss cheese annually. That amount of cheese uses about 1.3 million pounds milk daily soured from local farms. This equates to about 150,000 gallons of milk rolling in on 30-40 trucks.
The family owned company also has a Swiss cheese plant in Stockton, Illinois and another cheese plant in Rupert, Idaho that produces barrel cheese for a nationally branded cracker company along with a laccey baby Swiss style cheese.
All told there are over 100 million pounds of cheese produced by Brewster annually. When Brewster Cheese says “Make It Swiss” they mean it!
Brewster Cheese believes their employees are the company’s most valuable asset. Throughout the year, the company shows their appreciation with spring and summer cookouts, and a company picnic which was held at a Cleveland Indians game this year. Recently, all employees and their families were invited to a company Christmas party where every child received a gift.
In addition to being the largest producer of Swiss cheese in the United States, Brewster Cheese is a leading manufacturer of Whey and Lactose powders which in the past few years have come on strong in the marketplace with the use of whey powders in energy powder supplements and other products.
Swiss cheese is virtually lactose free, making it easier for lactose intolerant people to digest. When the lactose is removed through the liquid stream they dry it in a facility adjacent to the cheese making facility into a fine powder that is then sold to various companies that use as an ingredient in chocolate bars, baby formula among other products. You will find whey and/or lactose powders in almost anything that is a powder based drink.
By having three facilities in the United States Brewster Cheese is able to provide their customers with a plan that insures them there will always be a supply of high quality cheese available.