President and CEO of New Bothwell Cheese Ivan Balenovic, addressed a standingroom only crowd in its new expanded cheese aging plant in New Bothwell on Friday, November 4. The birthday celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony which consisted of breaking an antique bottle of milk, was celebrated by long term employees, local MLA Kelvin Goertzen and MP Vic Toews. David Northcott, of Winnipeg Harvest acted as the emcee for the event and continually expressed gratitude to Bothwell for its ongoing support to Winnipeg Harvest Food Bank.
Seventy five years ago, seven dairy farmers collectively invested $15,000 dollars to what is known today as Bothwell Cheese. This started the Bothwell Cooperative Dairy Society which later became “New Bothwell Cheese” and now branded as Bothwell Cheese.
Belanovic told a crowd of over 200 people how much he values the community, the employees and support from so many people that has made this enterprise the success it has become. He gave kudos to all of his staff, singling them out by name as well as business partners from Paradise Cheese in BC.
“I came to Bothwell Cheese in 2002, “ he said “And it has been gratifying to see how much we have grown a lot since then. I think it is a result of fantastic management and employees. That gave us the chance to do what we are doing now. We have tripled the size of our business in 10 years.”
Belanovic says the company was really built on fresh cheddar, squeekers and curds, and those products have given Bothwell Cheese a great reputation, and a good base to build from. To this day, they continue to make those products and more.
When Minister Vic Toews addressed the crowd he reminded people that there is hardly any wedding, funeral or church supper in Southern Manitoba that does not have squeaky cheese curds on the table. The reach and success has made Southern Manitoba proud.
The number of new artisan cheese has also elevated the company such as Madagascar Green Peppercorn, Black Truffle, and aged red wine cheese. Those products put them into the high end delis in the Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver markets.
Belanovic calls it a “pull off effect” where people then started to recognize that Bothwell Cheese is a unique quality cheese maker. He noted that they now make Edam and Gouda and Munster. In total, producing twenty five different kinds of cheese.
When asked about why Bothwell Cheese has done so well, Belanovic pointed out that the reason for staying in New Bothwell is the employee base.
‘We have an outstanding employee base. Our employees truly are dedicated, loyal and hard working. I know when we win national awards and our cheese is being distributed in every province and every territory, the employees are very proud that it bears the name of the town they are in. I don’t think we could find that same type of employee culture anywhere else and it’s not even on our minds to look anywhere else.”
Belanovic says there are several different competitions across Canada the United States and internationally, but there is one in particular that they have been successful at. The British Empire Cheese competition is held in Belleville Ontario every year and the winners of this competition receive a prestigious award. Belanovic says, “We have won the award for our marble cheddar 5 years in a row. Why that is so important to us is because it is judged by cheese makers. It’s not judged by people that might be objective, like connoisseurs or chefs or people that might just like the taste. It is judged on very specific criteria. It starts with a perfect score and gets deductions for defects. We know we are being judged by our peers and they are the best in Canada”
For more information go to www.bothwellcheese.com