Building a butter empire: Grassland Dairy Products Expansion
Grassland expansion creates space for future growth
By Susan Suleski
The owners of Grassland Dairy Products have a vision for their future, and it includes a whole lot of butter.
This past year, the family-owned business expanded its Greenwood headquarters by 150,281 square feet, allowing for the production of more butter and related products.
The expansion covered three main areas: the membrane area, where milk is separated into butter fat, protein, other solids and liquid; the dryer/evaporator/packaging area, where the protein component of milk can be dried into a powder; and the warehouse area for storage.
“The new project allows us to take the milk and pull out every component in it,” said Trevor Wuethrich, vice president of Grassland.
It’s all part of the company’s vision for the future, he said.
With special equipment, milk, which the company purchases from farms, can be divided into butter fat, which is used to make butter, and protein, which is dried and has a much longer shelf life of two to three years. That protein can be sold to companies that make yogurt, cheese and other products.
The dual process allows Grassland to make better use of the milk it purchases, which has increased significantly in recent years. In the early 2000s, the company purchased about 1 million pounds of milk a day, Wuethrich said. In the mid-2000s, Grassland doubled that, he said.
The recent expansion created more drying space for the increased milk supply.
“We built the new dryer to handle 8 million (pounds of milk) a day,” Wuethrich said.
Though the company has yet to hit capacity, it allows for future growth down the road, he said.
Already, Grassland has gone from making one truckload of powder a day to one truckload an hour.
The complexity of the production equipment, as well as the size of the project, made construction challenging at times, said Scott Boson, president of The Boson Co. Inc., Marshfield, the general contractor.
“The soil had to be stabilized to support the weight of the structure and the equipment,” he said. “Holes were drilled into the existing soils and then a gravel base material was compacted back into the hole to stabilize the soil and give additional bearing capacity.”
The work built a solid foundation for the new work space, and continued growth.
“I am fairly humble,” Wuethrich said, “but I am most proud we’re a family company that started as a small plant that has grown into a huge complex.”
— Susan Suleski