Donette Beattie has fond memories of driving from Illinois across the Wisconsin border to throw together a family style picnic lunch all centered around a hunk of real Wisconsin Cheese.
“I remember the family road trips when the only two things my mother would pack would be a loaf of bread and a knife,” said Beattie. “The picnic lunches at a park centered around real Wisconsin Cheese sandwiches were always such a special summer treat for my family and I.”
Donnette Beattie knows that real Wisconsin Cheese is a product that speaks for itself, and as the Vice President of Toppers Pizza Supply Chain, she takes great pride in her brand's dedication to using 100% real Wisconsin Mozzarella Cheese.
Beattie is a thirty-year veteran in the restaurant supply chain industry. She has been proud to both purchase and sell real Wisconsin cheese during her years in the supply chain business. When Beattie joined the Toppers Pizza team in 2015 she was delighted to learn of the relationship between Toppers Pizza and Cedar Valley Cheese.
“Right away I knew this relationship was unique. Jeff Hiller – owner and President of Cedar Valley Cheese – has such a genuine passion for his business, and the collaboration between the two teams is incredible,” said Beattie.
Jeff Hiller, a third-generation owner and President of Cedar Valley Cheese, has been dedicated to the growth and expansion of his family business since he began managing the company in 1986. At the age of twenty-four, Hiller purchased fifty percent of the company’s stock from his uncle and later went on to become the sole owner of Cedar Valley Cheese after purchasing the remaining stock from his father in 1992. Quality and name recognition are two factors Hiller attributes to his company’s success and what ultimately helped form a 20+ year partnership between Cedar Valley Cheese and Toppers Pizza.
“Since partnering with Toppers Pizza, we have gone from producing about 15 million pounds of cheese annually, to 42 million pounds,” said Hiller, “the partnership has allowed us to automate our production lines and make our manufacturing plant a state-of-the-art facility.”
The partnership between Toppers Pizza and Cedar Valley Cheese has proven successful for both brands. In the last three years, Toppers Pizza has added two additional distribution centers in Minnesota and Colorado to go along with their current locations in, North Carolina, and Texas. The additional distribution centers allow the fast-casual pizza brand to better manage ordering and distribution cycles of their “fresh-never frozen” Wisconsin Cheese.
“Both companies are adamant about the quality and freshness of our cheese and adding distribution centers has allowed us to bring real Wisconsin Cheese to our customers across the nation without compromising on the cheese’s character,” said Beattie.
Along with supporting increased orders for Toppers Pizza’s additional distribution centers, Hiller and the Cedar Valley Cheese team are presently overseeing the largest project in company history. “We are currently building a new warehouse with cold and dry storage, new shred room, freight consolidating, new offices, maintenance shop, new employee area, and a new quality control lab,” said Hiller. The new building will be fourteen miles north of their current location in Random Lake, Wisconsin and will allow Cedar Valley Cheese to double their cheese shredding and dicing capabilities. The project’s completion date is set for March 1, 2019. “Working with customers like a Toppers continues to drive success for us,” said Hiller.
In conjunction with their distribution expansion, Toppers Pizza’s Innovation Team is also finding new ways to incorporate Cedar Valley Cheese in an effort to bring more creativity to the Toppers brand. “We are working on catering to cravings that go beyond pizza,” said Beattie. Currently the Innovation Team is experimenting with new creations for the Toppers Pizza menu including Wisconsin-Mac-and-Cheese and Wisconsin Cheese and quesadillas, currently available in all restaurant locations. Both brands attribute their successful partnership to each other’s commitment to quality and product integrity; “I see our brands continuing to grow stronger,” said Beattie.