kase-meister

Here’s something to smile about. It’s a pic­ture of a growing company.

Across-the-board sales growth and still greater opportunities have Meister Cheese Company LLC, a 96-year-old family business, expanding in its hometown of Muscoda, Wis. Meister Cheese expects by late 2014 to complete nearly 90,000 square feet of construction work including numerous expansions to its Muscoda plant and a new industrial ingredient facility.

For the record, Meister Cheese processes and packages as many as 50 different items for retail, private label, club store and supermarket deli channels. Its prod­uct line ranges from popular Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Colby varieties to cus­tom specialties such as Wild Morel & Leek, Roasted Red Pepper, Horseradish, Habanero and Jalapeno. It can cut and package 40-lb. blocks, 10-lb. loaves, deli horns, longhorns and other sizes and can guarantee items are certified as Kosher, Organic and/or rBST-free.

Muscoda Protein Products, a Meister subsidiary, also processes and supplies industrial lactose for everything from bakery goods to infant formulas and pharmaceuticals.

When it came to assigning such an important growth project, Meister eval­uated its options and then selected ESI Group USA, a single-source, full-service engineering and construction services leader. Moreover, ESI specializes in tem­perature controlled food processing and food distribution centers and has proven expertise with critical topics such as food safety and sustainability.

In this instance, ESI Design and ESI Constructors, who make up ESI Group USA, will work hand-in-hand to provide full-service design development, proj-ect budgeting, scheduling, construction documents, project subcontractor bid­ding and general construction. Design development began in August 2012 with development and coordination of pro­cessing equipment layouts from numer­ous vendors as well as ongoing design­development of the facility expansion and utility infrastructure engineering.

So what’s the big picture? Meister offi­cials say they’re excited about this proj­ect for several reasons. For starters, they expect more space (expanded plant and packaging areas) and new equipment will boost Meister’s cheese and whey prod­ucts output by as much as 100% over present volume (and they already have been growing by 20% each year during the last five years).

Still more new expansions will be dedi­cated to whey protein concentrate (WPC) production, which represents a new food ingredient line. WPC powder has many uses in dairy products, and nutrient-sup­plemented foods such as sports, workout, and diet drinks, as well as high protein bars and snack foods.

More specifically, officials say Muscoda Protein Products’ additions feature USDA food grade state-of-the-art processing equipment. Meanwhile, a new cheese production addition will have expanded capacity and fully automated cheese block formers. ESI will also design for full con­veyance to the packaging and pre-cooling and holding cooler areas. The packaging area will be isolated from the sanitary pro­duction areas via conveyance openings.

Additional projects involve new docks, storage coolers and food ingredient ware­house space. Last but not least, Meister will renovate its offices to create a product tasting and presentation area for clients and more room for staff.

“Working with ESI has been an effi­cient and pleasant experience,” says Scott Meister, president of Meister Cheese. “Incorporating new expansions into exist­ing facilities always presents unique chal­lenges. ESI Group has demonstrated an ability to combine their experiences with our requirements to develop a building plan that we are truly excited about. We will be able to continue our growth pat­tern for years to come.”