Litehouse Inc. President and CEO Jim Frank is the first nonfamily member to head the Idaho-based manufacturer of refrigerated salad dressings and blue-veined cheeses. In this interview, he talks about the challenges of running this employee-owned dairy business.
The city of Sandpoint (population 7,500) is in the skinny part of Idaho, wedged between Washington and Montana, and about an hour south of the Canadian border. Sandpoint is the seat of Bonner County which, at 1,920 square miles, is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. When the Dixie Chicks sing of “Wide Open Spaces,” they could be referring to this part of Idaho.
It was one of 12 food processing facilities nominated for the award. Dairy Foods invited the dairy industry to vote and help select the recipient. During a five-week period ending July 6, more than 3,500 votes were cast.
Sure, the Cheddar from the creamery is sharp, and some is even ‘seriously’ sharp. Investments in equipment, employee safety and sustainable manufacturing processes also enhance the reputation of this Northeast dairy processor.
There was absolutely no equipment when Nuestro Queso moved into a shuttered cheesemaking facility in Illinois six years ago. As the company continues to grow, it is still buying processing and packaging machines.
The start-up U.S. dairy Nuestro Queso (‘our cheese’ in Spanish) meets the needs of Hispanic buyers on the East Coast and in the Midwest. The company also is building a following for its award-winning products among non-Latinos who appreciate the natural, fresh cheeses.