Valley Queen unveiled its Wall of Honor to recognize employees with 30 or more years of experience. Over 60 people attended the ceremony at the Valley Queen Heritage Center in downtown Milbank during the company’s 93rd Founders’ Day Celebration on Tuesday, March 1.
Valley Queen highlighted each of the 33 current and former employees with a bronze plaque, photo, name, and number of years of service. Six of the honorees still work at Valley Queen and include: Vince Hagen, Keith Kruger, Dan Mikkelson, Loren Schmeichel, and Ron Waletich. Six men have passed away and their families attended in their honor. They include: founders Alfred Gonzenbach and Alfred Nef, Jim Aden, LeRoy Kelly, Wally Runge, and Harold Stubbe.
The wall also commemorates the dedication of Richard Hermans as the team member who has been employed the longest. He served for 47 years. The combined total number of years for all 33 of the workers on the Wall of Honor is 1,263.
“The Wall of Honor has been about a year in the making,” said Jason Mischel, vice president of sales and milk procurement at Valley Queen. “It is an absolute pleasure to recognize so many of the men and women who worked alongside our founding families building Valley Queen into who we are today.”
Since March 1, 1929, when the first cans of milk arrived at Valley Queen, the company has grown to employ more than 300 people and produce 200 million pounds of cheese annually.
The Wall of Honor also features a quote by second-generation owners of the company, Max Gonzenbach, and Rudy Nef, who attended the Founders’ Day celebration. They say: “We consider it the honor of our lifetimes to have worked alongside this dedicated group of men and women. Our business and our community are forever better thanks to their knowledge, enthusiasm, and work ethic. The Nef and Gonzenbach families are eternally grateful for their roles in the success of Valley Queen.”
Nef also presented remarks during the ceremony as did Ken Karels, Valley Queen’s chairman of the board, and CEO Doug Wilke.
The community is also invited to view the Wall of Honor at the Valley Queen Heritage Center. The exterior of the Heritage Center has been restored to its original 1912 appearance and welcomes visitors on Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Browse the interactive memorabilia collected to learn about the cheese-making process and the history of Valley Queen.
Check out our gallery from the event!!
Top Photo= Wall of Honor honorees in attendance – Front L-R: Duane Prisinger, Kathy Storm, Rudy Nef, Max Gonzenbach, Nancy Hansen, Dave Waletich,
Jerry Van Hout
Back L-R: Jody Kuper, Lyle Behlings, Vince Hagen, Doug Schaffer, Dar Prisinger, Brad Haag, Brian Folk, Dan Mikkelson, James Boogaard, Rick Hermans, Mike Hermans, Ken Hermans, Jerry Strube, Dale Prisinger, Loren Schmeichel, Richard Schmeichel, Ron Waletich
Middle Photos= #1 Jason Mischel #2 Jody Kuper, Rudy Nef & Max Gonzenbach
Bottom Photo= CEO Doug Wilke