A cheese powerhouse grows In Wisconsin®
Sargento, a leading manufacturer, packager and marketer of natural shredded, sliced and snack cheeses and other foods, received up to $735,000 in state tax credits from the WEDC to support two recent expansions. In 2015, Sargento announced plans for an 80,000-square-foot expansion of its production facility in Kiel. This is the third major expansion of the plant, which opened in 1993 and produces Sargento natural shredded, sliced and snack cheeses, cheese dips, and battered and breaded frozen appetizers. The plant employs 540 people; the expansion will include additional space for production, storage and employee facilities, including a health and wellness center and additional locker space to accommodate up to 720 employees.
The company is also undertaking a 59,000-square-foot expansion of its technical center in Elkhart Lake. This expansion will more than double the size of the facility and provide new space for engineering, research and product development operations. Wisconsin is the number-one cheese-producing state in the U.S., and Sargento’s expansion further solidifies the state’s strength in this key industry.
Humble roots in a carriage house
A third-generation Wisconsin company, Sargento began as a modest cheese gift store in a carriage house in Plymouth. Owner Leonard Gentine noticed a demand for Italian cheeses, so he approached a neighbor, Joe Sartori, for investment that would allow the business to expand into this new product line. Thus, Sargento Cheese Company was born. The company has been an innovator in the industry — for example, offering the first packaged sliced and shredded cheeses, and the first resealable zippered packaging for cheese. Today, Sargento is a $1.3 billion company — one of the largest privately held companies in the U.S.