Curds and Whey: Nilfisk CFM 118 Combats Whey Powder

Cheese Curds in Every Home
Cheese Curds in Every Store
Cheese Curds in Every Restaurant
Cheese Curds in Every Life Style

The mantra of Ellsworth Co-op Creamery (Ellsworth, WI) leaves no question as to what this 99-year old company specializes in, nor does their nickname, “Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin.”   But it’s not just a “cheesy” nickname that has kept this company going strong year after year. The company takes cheese curds very seriously, and in an operation that processes close to 1.3 million pounds of milk a day, it’s no surprise that efficiency is a critical component of the operation.

Cheese curds are essentially cheddar cheese in its purest form.  Described as “squeaky” fresh, the production process is actually anything but squeaky clean, especially when it comes to processing the whey powder. As a by-product of cheese, whey is the liquid component that separates from milk after the curdling process. Ellsworth dries the whey into a powder form and sells it to a variety of markets for use in everything from animal feed to flavoring in popular snack foods.

During the drying process, the fine and dusty whey powder settles on the floor, ceilings, and machinery.  John Freyholtz, Whey Supervisor, used to combat the problem with mops, brooms, and shop-style vacuums, all of which were timely and inefficient, especially when it came to the shop vacuums that burned up after every couple months. And in an operation that runs around the clock, even during power outages, the archaic means of cleaning up just weren’t cutting it.

Todd Schreiner, account manager with Nelson-Jameson, Inc. was also well aware of their dusty problem. As a supplier of everything from gloves and hairnets to ingredients and packaging bags, Nelson-Jameson has been consistently serving Ellsworth for over 30 years. Schreiner visits the plant on a near bi-weekly basis, and knew they could benefit from a Nilfisk CFM vacuum, which Nelson-Jameson also carries.

When talk turned to vacuums, Schreiner gave Freyholtz a sales flyer about the Nilfisk vacs and offered to set up a demo of the Nilfisk CFM 118.  With a large main filter and an external filter shaker so the user can purge the filter free of dust, the portable, high-powered Nilfisk CFM 118 can easily outlive a shop-style vacuum by 20 years.

“During the demo, we vacuumed walls, pipes equipment and floors. I have done a number of trials with the Nilfisk line, and knew once I had the unit in their facility, I had a sale,” said Schreiner. “The Nilfisk CFM 118 was a logical alternative to the air and broom methods.”

And Schreiner was right.  Ellsworth purchased the vacuum on the spot, the same day as the demo.

What once was a multi-person job that could take hours is now done in less than half the time, and aside from general cleaning, Ellsworth staff has also found other uses for the vacuum, such as sucking up the excess whey powder that settles on the shipping totes after they’re filled.

“Unlike sweeping and compressed air, the vacuum isn’t really something we have to think about. Now all we have to do is worry about emptying the collection container when it gets full,” said Freyholtz.  “It’s a painless operation.”


Last year, Ellsworth Co-op manufactured 45 million pounds of cheese and 24 million pounds of whey powder, but despite the company’s success, the creamery’s high demand for quality has never faltered.  And thanks to partners like Nelson-Jameson and Nilfisk CFM, Ellsworth is one step closer to fulfilling their mantra…cheese curds in every home, store, restaurant and life style.

About Ellsworth

Ellsworth Dairy Cooperative is based in the heart of Wisconsin’s Dairyland in the town of Ellsworth, Wisconsin, and was proclaimed the “Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin” by Governor Anthony S. Earl in 1984. Their 521 proud dairy farm family owners live near Ellsworth, throughout Wisconsin, and into Minnesota. They formed their cooperative in 1910  to manufacture and sell butter. In 1966, they began their first expansion by making cheese. Two years later, they began our second expansion by selling packaged curds.  Today 100% All Natural Premium Cheddar Cheese Curds are their specialty product – and being sold nationwide.  For more information, visit

About Nelson-Jameson

For over 50 years Nelson-Jameson has been a leader in the food industry. They have become a broad line supplier servicing a customer base extending into virtually every business segment. They represent over 750 vendors giving their customers a single source supplier of over 20,000 products in hundreds of classifications providing the convenience of one order, one shipment and one invoice. Their professional staff offers extensive product knowledge, vast experience and technical expertise which create a unique environment of personal service. For more information, visit


About Nilfisk CFM

Nilfisk CFM, the industrial vacuum division of Nilfisk-Advance America, helps its industrial customers meet their individual cleaning requirements and challenges with an extensive range of high-performance vacuum cleaners. From its Malvern, Pa. headquarters, Nilfisk CFM provides industrial vacuums for heavy-duty applications that require maximum suction power; and specialty vacuums for clean applications that demand “absolute” air purity and facility cleanliness. The company’s vacuums are equipped with industry-specific features and exceptionally efficient filtration systems, ensuring dust- and debris-free facilities in the food, chemical/pharmaceutical, electronics, metalworking/powder coating, and a variety of manufacturing industries. For more information, visit