Hilmar Cheese Co. on Tuesday dedicated its new headquarters, including a lab where workers dream up more and more uses for dairy products.
The building, just south of the world’s largest cheese plant on Lander Avenue, will help the company take advantage of a growing global market for this food and its byproducts, speakers said.
“No one is more optimistic about your future than I am,” said Karen Ross, secretary of food and agriculture for Gov. Jerry Brown.
The company, founded by area dairy farmers in 1984, employs 860 people in Hilmar and 340 at a plant in Dalhart, Texas.
The new building, erected by Huff Construction Co. of Modesto at a cost that was not disclosed, has about 55,000 square feet of office space. About 200 people who had been scattered around the plant now work there.
The building’s environmentally friendly features earned it a platinum rating, the highest possible, from the U.S. Green Building Council. They include solar panels providing about a quarter of the electricity, air conditioning by means of recirculated wastewater, an electric vehicle charging station and interiors that use natural light.
“At Hilmar Cheese, we’ve always strived to do the right thing for our dairymen, for our employees, for our community and the people we do business with,” said Richard Clauss, chairman of the board.
Hilmar Cheese mainly produces American varieties such as cheddar, Monterey jack and colby, sold to other companies for marketing under several labels.
An affiliated company, Hilmar Ingredients, processes the lactose and whey left over from cheesemaking. They are sold to makers of infant formula, energy bars, digestive aids and many other products around the world.
“Beverages, bars – whatever we can put protein in, we like to put protein in,” said Ashley Nunes, a food applications assistant, during a tour of the lab.