History in the making
A Humble Beginning
Our humble beginnings originated in the small town of Baltic, Ohio, where our founders, Nelson Hershberger and Stanley Mullet, met as coworkers at Steiner Cheese, a Swiss cheese plant that had been in operation since 1833. Stanley had been working with Steiner for over twelve years. He started by delivering milk to the plant, and in 2004, Stanley became a cheesemaker. Nelson’s family had been delivering milk to Steiner for thirty-three years before he also began at the plant in 2004. He began in packaging, receiving, and sanitation, he then became Safety Director and eventually earned his role as Head Cheesemaker. As Head Cheesemaker, Nelson proved his skill and passion by winning several awards at the Sugarcreek Swiss Festival & Ohio State Fair in Millersburg.
starting something new
After several years of struggling to keep the company afloat and frustrations with executive decisions, Nelson made the difficult decision to resign from his role with Steiner Cheese. Shortly after Nelson’s departure, the company decided to close its doors, and Nelson went on to briefly work with Heini’s Cheese in Berlin, OH. Several weeks later, Nelson was approached by Stanley, along with a group of farmers, about starting a cheese factory in Hicksville, OH, and the idea for Tri-State Cheese was born!
In 2011, Nelson and Stanley purchased a neglected building that would soon become the Tri-State Cheese plant. At first, the building was used as a transfer station for farmers and their milk products. Eighteen months later, the facility was ready to make cheese. The first variety ever produced at our plant was Muenster, made from milk sourced from Amish farms in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. In 2013, we itroduced 6 new cheese varieties, sold from a small display inside the front of the plant. After a successful first year, we decided to celebrate with a 1-year anniversary party that saw over 500 guests in attendance - each received free samples of their favorite Tri-State cheese.
By 2014, the demand for our cheese was growing and we began purchasing milk from the surplus market. One year later, 50% of our milk was being sourced from surplus milk, and we continued to purchase from this market for several years. We acquired two adjoining properties in 2016 which not only provided better parking and easier access to our facilities but also allowed us to upgrade our packaging room to include a Rollstock thermoforming vacuum packaging machine that has greatly expedited our packaging process. We look forward to utilizing these improvements for the future expansion of our company, and to continue serving our customers quality cheeses!
Welcoming New Horizons
As many of our previous milk partners moved on to other business ventures, we began to look locally for other dairy farms to source our milk. Along came Yankee Springs Farms and the Lettinga family. Their farm produces the exceptional, high-quality milk that goes into all of our cheeses, and we are proud to partner with them to continue to create a fresh, better quality product at Tri-State Cheese.