KENT, ILLINOIS — Hispanic Cheese Makers-Nuestro Queso is celebrating a significant expansion at its facility in Kent, Illinois. The $15 million investment includes new processing and packaging equipment, expanded cooler space and additional capacity to meet demand for further expansion in the future.
Mark Braun, CEO, Hispanic Cheese Makers, says the expansion project was needed to meet increased demand for the company’s high-quality and extensive offerings of Mexican, Caribbean and Central American cheeses and cremas.
The project is the latest phase of a comprehensive investment that began two years ago when Hispanic Cheese Makers developed its long-term sustainability investment plans. At that time, the company installed new state-of-the-art systems to utilize reverse osmosis to purify its water to extremely high-quality standards, Braun notes. Hispanic Cheese Makers constructed state-of-the-art water treatment systems irrigating 100 acres of farmland. The company also upgraded its lighting to LED and began to source power from renewable energy sources, as well as installed insulated high-speed doors on its coolers and upgraded refrigeration systems to be more efficient.
“This is part of our holistic approach across our operations to set goals and standards for the company to reflect our focus on quality across the entire manufacturing process, including sustainable systems and operations at the plant level,” Braun says.
Founded in 2009, Hispanic Cheese Makers produces its cheeses and cremas using original recipes at its SQF Level 3 certified plant and has a number of capabilities including on-site shredding, grating and packaging. The upgrades to its processing and packaging lines under this expansion project will help the company to improve operational efficiencies as well as food safety, Braun notes.
The plant’s south make room will be expanded, not in footprint but by removing walls, repurposing its shred room and putting in several million dollars’ worth of new, state-of-the-art equipment, including a new cheesemaking and batch processing systems. In addition, the company is adding a significant amount of new cooler space and blast cooling capcilities. This expansion phase will address bottlenecks the plant had for cooler space for finished goods. The separate cooler space allows the company to work on the upgrades without disrupting its day-to-day operations — though by project’s end, the facilities will be connected. The company also will be adding additional loading docks and has made investments in the land around its facility for future expansion.
“We’ve purchased a significant amount of farmland and surrounding properties to allow for further expansion as well as for traffic and trucks that will be running product with our increased capacity,” he says.
Despite it being a challenging year across the industry with COVID-19, Hispanic Cheese Makers felt it was important to make this investment as its plant expansion will benefit the local economy through increased investment and the creation of new jobs at a time in which most companies are scaling back. “We are committed to our employees and are very thankful for their efforts during this COVID-19 epidemic,” he says.
This plant expansion solidifies Hispanic Cheese Makers-Nuestro Queso’s place as one of the premier Hispanic cheese manufacturers in the nation, and it will continue to fuel growth in the Stephenson County, Illinois, area for years to come.
To celebrate its expansion, the company will hold a ground-breaking ceremony with county officials on Friday October 30, 2020 at its Kent, IL plant. “We want to show who we are and what we’re trying to do in the community,” Braun says.
About Hispanic Cheese Makers-Nuestro Queso Founded in 2009, we are an Illinois based private brand, co-packing, and ingredient Hispanic cheese manufacturer for national retailers, top brands, distributors, and manufacturers. We offer the highest quality & most extensive Mexican, Caribbean, and Central American style authentic cheese and creams assortment crafted with care and a personal sense of ownership using milk free of rBST hormones. We are proud of our State of the Art SQF 3.0 certified plant with broad production capabilities and our commitment to sustainability and animal welfare. Visit us at: www.hcmakers.com
Cover photo: Source; https://hcmakers.com/