The Valley Queen Board of Directors has approved an investment of $1.6 million into the Valley Queen Company Stock Profit Sharing Plan & Trust. The plan, which was created in 2017 and unveiled to employees in March of 2018, contributes company stock to eligible employees’ retirement accounts, making employees owners of Valley Queen through their participation in the plan. An investment of $1.4 million was made by the company last year for 2017 eligible wages.
“Investing in our 260 employees is one of our strategic priorities,” said Doug Wilke, Valley Queen’s CEO. Wilke announced the contribution during two employee meetings held March 7 at the company’s new training center in Milbank. “The Board believes building employee ownership in Valley Queen will help grow our business and allow employees to share in the growth they create. It will also strengthen our operations and help us attract highly technical, world-class talent to northeastern South Dakota.”
Wilke explained that employees will receive a contribution equal to nine percent of their 2018 eligible wages. This retirement plan is one of the most generous and unique benefits offered in Valley Queen’s competitive employee benefit package. Valley Queen also offers health, dental and vision coverage, life insurance, disability and a 401(k) plan with a five percent dollar-for-dollar employer match.
2019 marks Valley Queen’s 90th year in business. For the coming year, the company is committed to improving worker safety, product quality, and optimizing the operation of its newly expanded dairy processing plant.
In July 2019, Valley Queen will complete “VQ Next”, a $53 million expansion of its Milbank dairy processing plant, which will increase its processing capacity by 25 percent to more than five million pounds of milk a day.
Founded in 1929 by Alfred Nef and Alfred Gonzenbach, Valley Queen continues to be owned by the Nef and Gonzenbach families. Valley Queen annually converts 1.5 billion pounds of high-quality milk into natural cheeses, dried lactose, WPC80 and anhydrous milk fat.
Submitted photo: Valley Queen CEO Doug Wilke announcing the profit sharing plan at the employee meeting.