Modest Proposal

Leprino credits a team effort for the company’s success.
The management at Leprino Foods Co. historically shuns the spotlight, but there was no escaping it when Dairy Field selected the company as its 2004 Processor of the Year.
Still, Leprino’s top brass was careful to give credit where credit is due — to the entire family of company employees at every level of management and production.
“We’re not a company that likes to blow our own horn,” says Larry Jensen, Leprino’s incoming president. “We’re proud of the award because it’s a clear reflection on the efforts of our people. We’re proud of our people — of the energy, of the intellect, of the passion that our people have for our business, day in and day out. We don’t think we look at ourselves as a company where any one individual has a corner on the success of the company. It’s the teamwork, it’s the passion of the people that’s at the core of what propels our success.”
Criteria for the honor include industry leadership, business initiatives, marketing achievements, technological advances and relations with employees, suppliers and the community.
Leprino is the world’s top manufacturer of mozzarella, and its whey business continues to excel in the marketplace. Getting there has resulted in dozens of patents for proprietary manufacturing technology, a research department that comes up with new ways to use its products before customers know they need them and the continuation of top quality and service that has sustained the recognition and patronage of Leprino’s many customers.
“We’re obviously proud of our technology. We work hard to be innovative, to stay ahead of the game when it comes to bringing products to our marketplace that offer our customers superior price-value relationships,” Jensen says. “We’re proud of the management systems we’ve developed over the years that give us the ability to look at our business in an extreme level of detail and help us be as competitive and efficient as we need to be. And we’re proud of the leadership we have in our organization, and the leadership that’s represented by the people in our factories, the people in our administrative offices, the people that make the business run. Those things are all important to us.”
“We take our responsibilities in our communities very seriously, so corporate citizenship is important to us. We hold ourselves highly accountable to being good corporate citizens, not only within our communities but also from a regulatory and environmental standpoint. We’re proud of our track record in those areas.”
Wes Allen, Leprino’s outgoing president, echoes Jensen’s sentiments about the honor recognizing the efforts of the company’s people. “We’ve been able to have an awful lot of talented people and we believe they deserve recognition, and they’ve earned this recognition,” says Allen, who retired in October. “It makes us happy because they’re getting a chance to be recognized, and deservedly so, for their talents and accomplishments.”
Working together to be the best is an attitude that starts at the top, with company chairman Jim Leprino. “That’s what we preach and it’s obviously working,” he says. “We’re an organization that, from the top down and bottom up, works together as a team to be a successful company and achieve our goals. There are no superstars — there’s just a bunch of hard-working people in the whole organization.”  
Dairy Field will present Leprino Foods with its 2004 Processor of the Year Award at the 2005 Dairy Forum, January 9 to 12 in Orlando, Fla.
“We’re an organization that, from the top down and bottom up, works together as a team to be a successful company and achieve our goals. There are no superstars — there’s just a bunch of hard-working people.”
Family Business
Leprino Foods Co. traces its roots back to 1950, when Mike Leprino Sr. opened a small retail grocery store in the Sunnyside neighborhood on Denver’s north side.
In conjunction with the grocery operation, he began a modest Italian cheesemaking business, producing ricotta and scamorze (a form of mozzarella) by hand for sale to other Denver-area grocery stores.
In 1956, Mike Leprino’s son Jim, the company’s current chairman, entered the family business. Jim Leprino recognized that continued growth of the enterprise would require improvement of archaic cheesemaking methods and marketing techniques. Concentrating on production and marketing of mozzarella, he reasoned, offered the best opportunity for expansion.
Jim further recognized the need to supplement his own capabilities to position the company for rapid growth. So in 1962, he recruited Wisconsin-based professional cheesemaker Lester Kielsmeier to oversee the development of manufacturing processes capable of producing ever-larger quantities of cheese with consistent quality. Kielsmeier’s lifetime of work in mozzarella production — the principles of which remain core to Leprino’s manufacturing process to this day — was eventually recognized in 2000 with the National Cheese Institute’s Laureate Award.
In 1965, Leprino purchased its first mozzarella plant to expand production beyond the original operation in Denver. Since then, the company’s manufacturing network has further expanded to encompass 11 plants — nine in the United States and two overseas through a joint venture with Glanbia plc.
In 1966, Leprino hired Wesley Allen from accounting firm Price Waterhouse to design and implement the unique systems of manufacturing and financial control that are a hallmark of the company today. Allen served as Leprino’s president from 1976 until his retirement in October 2004.
Today, Leprino’s three-story corporate headquarters building in Denver stands on the site of the original family grocery operation, keeping the company in touch with its roots as it continues to grow here and overseas.  df
Leprino’s Product Mix CHEESE
IQF (individually quick frozen) shredded products: In whole milk, low-moisture part-skim (LMPS), part-skim or reduced-fat mozzarella and blended varieties.
Block cheese products: Whole, LMPS or reduced fat, in 6- and 20-pound loaves.
Ribbon™ and Wrapped Ribbon™ cheese products: Proprietary unshredded form of mozzarella designed for foodservice and manufacturing environments.
String cheese products: Made in a variety of sizes, shapes, flavors and colors.
Gas-flushed products: A full line of mozzarella and blend products.
WHEY
Sweet whey: 25-kilogram bags or 1,000-pound bulk totes.
Whey protein concentrate (WPC): At 35, 65 and 80 percent levels, regular and instantized, in various bags and totes from 1,000 to 2,400 pounds.
Lactose: In 40, 100 and 200 mesh particle sizes, in 25-kilogram bags and totes from 1,760 to 2,400 pounds.
Leprino has seen excellent growth in its WPC products and has become the largest lactose producer in the world. The company supplies all the major infant formula producers in North America. New whey products include the following:
Instantized WPC 80
WPC NB80 for nutrition bars designed to maintain finished product softness and enhanced shelf life.
EggRep Pro™, a protein product engineered to be an egg replacer.
Tem Pro™, a heat-stable protein product for ready-to-drink performance beverages.
Bev Pro™ , a high protein product for instant powder beverages
GelPro, a high-gelling protein product designed for yogurt, meat, fishcake and surimi-type applications.