30 August 2012
Two Factories, One Goal PT. II
Getting to know the Willows cheese factory
Last week we talked about the Rumiano Cheese Co. factory in Crescent City, where the hearty milk of California's Northern Coast is taken to be magically transformed into a thing of beauty, Rumiano cheese. But, once the cheese-making is over, where does it go? The next step is a bit more technological, as the 40-pound blocks of cheese are then sliced, diced, bagged and wrapped in the last stop, Willows.
Willows, California is a small town of about 6,000 people in Northern California -- just north of Sacramento about 90 miles. The intense heat of the summer months (it's about 102°F as of the writing of this article) are far too stressful for dairy cows. However, because Willows is the home of the Rumiano family business and is centrally located in California it was important to keep the Willows factory in addition to the Crescent City factory.
Welcome to Willows!
Once the cheese is shipped to Willows from the far Northern Coast of California (Crescent City) the warehouse is the first to receive the multiple tons of cheese. From there the pallets are sorted and placed throughout the warehouse. Some is sent off to faraway lands like San Francisco and Wisconsin, while the rest is unpacked and sent to the appropriate team. Each team has a different responsibility in the plant. There is the slicing room, where massive machines pump out 10 slices of cheese per second, while the prepack room hand cuts 40-pound blocks into smaller retail size shapes. With great speed, the teams both label and box the cheese, pumping out around 80,000 pounds per day. Once the cheese is boxed and palletized it then makes a full circle and is sent back into the warehouse before shipment.
Willows Factory Warehouse
From the green, green, pastures of Del Norte and Humboldt counties to the warehouse in the Sacramento Valley, the cheese makes its way over a 400 mile journey until it can be enjoyed by all.