Our great customers and our great community are the backbone of our business. Last year we had the privilege of installing one of our gazebos in the rural village of Gilman. In this article, we have the pleasure of telling the story of Gilman, the Gilman Cheese Factory, and a gazebo gift.
About Gilman Wisconsin
Gilman is a small village in rural Wisconsin. Candice Grunseth, who serves as the village clerk describes Gilman as a quaint, rural village where everyone knows everyone. It is home to one of the last swinging bridges in the state and has beautiful parks and a campground. It is located next to the Chippewa National Forest which a provides outstanding recreation and camping opportunities in the area. For more info on Gilman, check out the village website, gilmanwi.com, as well as the village facebook page.
The village of Gilman may be small, but Gilman plays a big role in the National cheese industry. The Gilman Cheese Factory made its mark in the national cheese scene by specializing in premium quality, shelf-stable, processed cheese for the gift pack, retail, and airline industry. The facility is over 50,000 square feet, employs over 140 employees and produces over 120,000 lbs of cheese every day! Candice stated that the dairy industry is so important and vital to Wisconsin, because so many of the Wisconsin families have “poured their heart and soul into the dairy industry”.
Much of the success of the Gilman Cheese can be attributed to Tom Hand and a string of highly fortunate events. Tom Started working for the company in 1994 and purchased the company in 2000. In 2019, Tom Hand sold the company and retired. As a way of saying thanks for the great community support that he and his company had received over the years, Tom donated a large landscaping project to the village of Gilman. The centerpiece of this project was a beautiful gazebo that Tom purchased from Northwood Outdoor.
Candice, stated that the gazebo can often be seen frequented by Gilman Cheese staff, members of the little league baseball teams, bikers resting, locals reading books, and for special town events like graduation photos.
The Gilman Cheese Story
We recently reached out to Tom Hand for more of the cheese side of the story. Tom came to Gilman with no cheese experience. The cheese factory was struggling and employed only 10-12 employees. Tom bought the company in the year 2000 with the hopes of not only improving the fate of the company, but also of the town itself. Tom told us “I knew we could not compete with the big companies, we had to do something that no one else was doing.” And that brilliant niche that they found was natural, nothing-artificial, processed cheeses that are shelf stable at room temperature.
Industries took notice of the exceptional Gilman Cheese quality. Gilman Cheese soon became the sole supplier to the hickory farms gift basket business. One day when American Airlines was forced to throw away all of its packaged cheese due to quality issues, Gilman Cheese quickly stepped in as a temporary supplier. American Airlines liked the cheese so much that Gilman became their permanent supplier. From there, Gilman would eventually enter every major airline in the US and even a few international ones! Gilman Cheese has won multiple National awards for the quality of its cheese.
When Tom was ready to retire from the cheese business, he immediately planned out a way to bless the village of Gilman with a massive landscaping renovation project. This included cleaning up the riverbanks in the village and adding the Gillman Community Cheese Park on main street.
Tom found Northwood Outdoor through a local google search. His goal was to find a high-quality gazebo that could serve as the centerpiece to the project. He said that working with Northwood to get a gazebo was a wonderful experience from planning to completion. We are so appreciative of his kind words, because we are a local company that loves serving local people. We are thrilled that this gazebo is being used in this small Wisconsin village to bring the community together. Although Tom is not currently living in Gilman, his love and respect for the people of central Wisconsin is enduring. Here Tom is pictured several years ago with some of the employees at the Gillman Cheese Factory
At present, Tom is busy researching and writing about American history for his own blog called the American Corner.
Here at Northwood, we were honored to be part of this special community project. Local communities and businesses thrive when we stick up for each other and help each other out wherever possible.
If you ever find yourself in the Gilman area, don’t forget enjoy some great cheese and to relax a bit in that gazebo! And if you happen to need a gazebo for your home or business… we would be glad to help you out!