South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem declared Friday, November 20, 2020, as Max Gonzenbach Day. Gonzenbach was honored for more than 61 years of service as an employee, owner, and board member of Valley Queen Cheese in Milbank. He now sits on the board as an observer.
Gonzenbach began working at Valley Queen as a young boy, wrapping butter for 50 cents an hour. He went on to graduate from Michigan State University in 1959 with a degree in dairy science and returned to Milbank to join the family business.
Over the past six decades, Gonzenbach has been recognized as a leader in the Valley Queen business, the dairy industry, the Milbank community, and South Dakota. He has served as a volunteer on the board of directors for the hospital, library, churches, Boy Scouts, and Grant County Development. He acted as a board member at the local and national levels for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Gonzenbach was also involved with the South Dakota Investment Council, South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry, South Dakota Family Business Initiative, and a variety of dairy industry organizations. He and his longtime business partner, Rudy Nef, have received recognition and numerous awards for their contributions to the dairy processing industry.
Valley Queen’s CEO, Doug Wilke, says, “It’s a privilege for us to have Max remain involved in what we do at Valley Queen. Our employees, our board of directors, and certainly the community of Milbank are all better because of his leadership, kindness, and generosity. We wish him the best as he retires from our board of directors and give the sincerest thanks for his many years of dedication to Valley Queen.”