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Forward looking: Renard’s Cheese to expand

A three-phased manufacturing facility expansion in Algoma to be completed by October 2025

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December 16, 2022

ALGOMA – Turning down nearly 6 million pounds of production in a year has a way of making a company realize it needs to expand.

That’s exactly the scenario that happened with Renard’s Cheese in Algoma/Sturgeon Bay.

“Our current facility (on County S in Algoma) can only handle about 3 million pounds of production per year,” Renard’s co-owner Ann Renard said. “We’d like to extend our capacity by 50%. Last year, we turned down 6 million pounds, and the year before that, about 4 million. We (have) frequently turned down opportunities for more work.”
Phased expansion
Renard said they’ve been working on an expansion plan – which combines the company’s two facilities under one roof – since about 2015.

“It takes a lot of planning – from the time you start planning manufacturing to the time you get a shovel on the ground, it can take up to 10 years,” she said. “We’re still a little bit ahead of the game, but we were supposed to break ground right around when the COVID-19 pandemic began. COVID caused some problems, so… we broke our project into three phases.”

During Phase 1, Renard said the company is installing an exact weight-cutting system and making improvements to the existing factory/equipment to improve capacity.

“This will allow us to do more with less,” she said. “Our current workforce we have will be able to handle the cut and wrap part of the expansion, however, for the manufacturing side, we are adding six full-time positions – we want to get people trained.”

During Phase 2, Renard said an entirely new, 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility will be built.

“We’ll try to begin October 2023,” she said. “We’ll still use our warehouse, too. The equipment we’re bringing in for Phase 1 will come with us to the new facility. The goal is to have the entire manufacturing process under one roof. Right now, we make the cheese in Algoma and then haul it to our (County) DK location (in Sturgeon Bay) and cut and wrap it.”

From there, Renard said product either goes the retail route or gets shipped?.

//’s Cheese co-owners – Chris, left, and Ann Renard – said they are expanding the County S manufacturing facility in Algoma to increase production. Submitted Photo

She said Phase 2 will allow the company to significantly increase its production.

“When it’s completed, we’ll be able to go from our current production to about 12 million pounds,” she said.

Phase 3, Renard said, involves bringing in additional cut-and-wrap systems.

“It will take about three years, start to finish for all three phases,” she said. “Phase 1, which is happening now, will be completed next spring, the second phase will begin in October and take two years to complete.”
Worldwide reach
Part of the company’s push to increase its capacity, Renard said, is its visibility far beyond Wisconsin.

She said the company ships all over the country and is getting more into the global market – something they will be able to do more of as a result of the expansion.

“Through our website, we ship for individual customers, but we also work with about 45 distributors,” she said. “We ship to Dubai and Saudi Arabia – mainly the Middle East. We also have some interest coming from Japan we’re working on. Exports are a small part of our business, but with our expansion, we’ll be able to handle more.”

Renard said the company does “very well regionally,” as well as across the country.

“We didn’t think we’d be shipping globally like we are,” she said. “The opportunity presented itself, so It’s good to diversify. There are a lot of Americans living in Dubai – there’s some name recognition there, believe it or not.”
Closing the Algoma retail store
Part of the plan to streamline business and help with staffing issues, Renard said, includes the closure of the Algoma retail store.

This picture is what the Renard’s Cheese factory on County S in Algoma currently looks like. Submitted Photo

“In mid-October, we decided to combine all of the retail here to our County DK location (in Sturgeon Bay),” she said. “Up until October, we had been very successful in not having staff shortages, however, in October, that was no longer the case. To be good to our employees and still maintain the same level of customer service, we decided to combine all retail under one roof.”
Renard said the decision “has been very good for the business.”

“It’s going excellent and was a great decision,” she said. “It also allowed us to now have more room for our manufacturing site (on County S) for storage and what they need to accomplish on a daily basis, especially with the first phase of our expansion already started over there.”
How it all began
As the decades-old company embarks on its expansion to keep up with demand, the Renards are quick to remember what got them to where they are today – a history that dates back to the 1960s.

Renard said Howard and Angela Renard, her husband Chris’ grandparents, opened the original business in 1961.

“Howard was riding around with his dad – who hauled milk – at a very young age,” she said. “At the age of 13, he started working at a cheese factory down the road. When he turned 18, he decided he wanted to start his own cheese manufacturing.”

Renard said Howard bought his first factory – the County S location in Algoma – in 1961.

// rendering shows what the new facility will look like after the expansion is completed by October 2025. Submitted Rendering

“He and his wife Angela – it was a small two-vat factory – lived upstairs,” she said. “It started (under) the name Rosewood Dairy Inc. and eventually became Renard’s Cheese.”

Chris and Ann are third-generation owners, and the couple’s daughter, Samantha – (who works in the business with her parents) – makes it four generations.

“Chris’ dad Gary and his wife Bonnie were the second-generation owners,” Renard said. “They both did wonderful things for the business, too.”

Now on its third generation of cheesemakers, Renard’s Cheese offers a large selection of cheese, including cheddars, colby, farmers, muenster, brick, marble, monterey jack, string and more than 50 flavor-infused, specialty cheeses – and of course curds.

For more information on Renard’s Cheese, visit

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