By Steve Large

HILMAR (CBS13) — “Real California cheese” is creating “real” job opportunities in the struggling San Joaquin Valley.

There are lots of smiles from employees at the Hilmar Cheese Factory. They must have a pretty sharp business model because they’re already one of the biggest employers in the region, and now they’ll be adding more jobs.

The plant doesn’t do small jobs. They process 2 million pounds of cheese per day.

Chances are you’ve had some without even knowing.

“Because what we do is we wholesale cheese and we sell it to other companies that put their labels on it,” Hilmar’s Denise Skidmore said.

Now the company has plans on adding another building to the Hilmar California headquarters, adding another 100 workers within the next three to five years.

Economics Professor Gokce Soydemir recently published the 2012 San Joaquin Valley business forecast report for CSU Stanislaus. He says companies like Hilmar set a good example for the region.

“It provides visibility for these kinds of companies, definitely it’s putting the word out there that, in terms of quality, it matches the cheese that is produced in Europe,” he said.

The Hilmar Cheese Company employees 770 people in the town of Hilmar, population 4,500.

“It’s a great place to live, and definitely the cheese factory is at the center of it,” resident Tara Leigh Duffy said. “You say Hilmar, that’s what people know you for.”

A San Joaquin valley factory churning out real California cheese, and lots of real jobs too.

“When you hear California cheeses, it’s probably a Hilmar cheese, yeah,” Skidmore said.
The Hilmar Cheese Company was founded three decades ago by 11 dairy farm families. The company estimates that 22 million people eat their products every day.


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