Meet Plant Manager Dave Larson
Mar 01, 2023 (Westby, WI)
Part of what makes Westby Cooperative Creamery dairy products so great is the hard-working manufacturing team behind it all. There’s a lot that goes on from the time the milk truck pulls up to the finished product you see on the shelves of your local grocer. At the head of that team is the plant manager Dave Larson.
Larson started in July 2022 but his history with the Creamery dates back to his childhood on his family’s small dairy farm in Coon Valley, Wis. While he no longer farms, the farm remains in the family, and is operated by Westby Creamery farmer-owners Jeff and Ashley Olson.
Larson said he was excited to take on a role where he is able to combine what he learned growing up and his previous experience working in the industry. “Having farmed most of my life, and later spending many years working in the food industry, I found that improvement can come from unlikely places,” Larson said. “Often an idea from a person who’s not normally involved in planning can contribute the greatest value.”
One project he hopes to accomplish is improving yogurt production through-put. To do this, an in-line cooling system will be added in to cycle the processing vat at a much faster interval. This helps cool the yogurt as it is being packaged rather than waiting for the processing vat to do it. “In just one simple step, we can double our output,” Larson said. While you can’t find a Westby-brand yogurt at the grocery store, it is made in bulk quantities for schools, restaurants and as an ingredient for other businesses.
Having been around Westby Creamery products his whole life, it’s not easy to pick a favorite. Larson says he enjoys both the small and large curd 4% cottage cheese best. He noted the French onion dip is a close second.
In his free time, Larson and his wife maintain a small garden and like to go camping Hatfield, Wis. whenever they can. Over the years, he has also developed an interest in older Farmall tractors. He will spend time tinkering with an “ever enlarging” group of them.