New Golden Guernsey owner doesn't plan to produce milk

CREATED May 16, 2013

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  • The front gate remained locked at Golden Guernsey Dairy processing plant in Waukesha on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. | Photo: Scott Ash Image by Scott Ash

WAUKESHA - The new owner of the Golden Guernsey Dairy doesn't plan to produce your standard skim and 2% milk there.

Lifeway Foods, which is based in Morton Grove, Illinois outside Chicago, makes specialty dairy products and that's what it will make at the dairy in Waukesha.

The company is known most for something called Kefir.  The company CEO describes Kefir as a cultured dairy product similar to a drinkable yogurt.

Lifeway CEO Julie Smolyansky took over the company after her father passed away suddenly.  Julie's mom and dad started the company in 1986.  She and her parents emigrated from the former Soviet Union in the late '70s.

Kefir comes from eastern Europe.  It's popular there.

Over the past several years, Lifeway has expanded into other specialty dairy products.  That's what it plans to produce at the Golden Guernsey plant in Waukesha.

"We're not really interested in doing commodity based business.  The products we're really looking to do are going to be more green friendly GMO free and organic," Smolyansky said.

"We are at capacity in our existing facility," Smolyansky said.  Lifeway had the option of adding on to its current plant.  But that would have taken years.  The dairy in Waukesha will let the company expand immediately.

Smolyansky says the company plans to reopen the dairy soon and would like to rehire many of the people who were put out of work when the dairy closed abruptly earlier this year.

Lifeway is planning to close on the deal next month.

What happens to the name Golden Guernsey?  Smolyansky says she's not sure yet.