Leeman has increased the capacity of the plant from 3,750 pounds of cheese per day to 200,000 pounds per day. Brewster also operates a specialty foods plant that processes the whey from cheese-making into protein and lactose powders for use in food products.
Making cheese may involve an Old World process, but Leeman has invested in New World technology. A recent plant expansion allows Brewster to increase volume by 30 percent while decreasing energy costs.
It will also produce Swiss cheese in 380-pound blocks rather than the standard 200-pound blocks. That allows distributors to save 18 percent more product when they trim it for packaging because the new shape and size is more efficient on the cutting machines.
Making good products sometimes involves improving old ones. In the face of declining Swiss cheese consumption nationwide, Brewster initiated market studies that showed the majority of consumers desired a Swiss cheese with smaller eyes and a creamier flavor and texture than traditional Swiss cheese recipes. As a result, Leeman led the company to make a product to meet this consumer demand.
"There is always someone waiting to step in if you stumble," says Leeman.
But the real key to success is a committed team of employees, he says.
"We wouldn't be here if our employees weren't so caring and conscientious," says Leeman. "Treating people the same way you would like to be treated is very important."
More than half of the company's 270 employees have been with Brewster Dairy more than 15 years.
Leeman's goal for the company is simple: To be the best Swiss cheese manufacturer in the United States.
"We plan on being the major force in Swiss cheese in the United States," says Leeman. "I really think that we will not have a problem doing that as long as we produce good product." How to reach: Brewster Dairy, (330) 767-3492