Valley Queen Heritage Center Opens Doors

August 21, 2018

When Valley Queen Cheese, based in Milbank, S.D., wanted to create a series of displays to tell their company story, they knew Paulsen would be able to direct them to the right vendor.

As it turned out, Paulsen WAS the right vendor.

Paulsen Account Specialist Allyse Steffen took Valley Queen VP of Sales and Business Development Jason Mischel to the Stockyards Ag Experience, a two-story educational center that Paulsen created.

Mischel said immediately he knew Paulsen would be the right partner.

Telling an Important Story

The project kicked off about a year ago, with Paulsen creating concepts, interviewing key stakeholders and tracking down artifacts. The designated space was a 2,500-square-foot building in Milbank, which had once been a hardware store and was renovated in 2013.

“The heritage center was a unique and important project for us because it wasn’t just business—it was personal,” says Mischel.

“We trusted Paulsen with telling the story of the American Dream through the eyes of Valley Queen’s founders and their families. The team at Paulsen collaborated to find the perfect blend of pictures, video, audio and the written word to bring this story to life,” he says.

Valley Queen Cheese began in 1929, although the story starts much earlier with Alfred Nef and Alfred Gonzenbach, who grew up in Switzerland. The Alfreds, as they were affectionately known, set up shop in Milbank after a stop for gas turned into a business development recruitment effort.

Engaging Viewers

“One of the keys from Paulsen’s point of view was to find ways to engage the viewer in this extraordinary story,” says Steffen. “We used a variety of display types, including video, audio and other types of interactive exhibits throughout the center.”

The heritage center includes a company timeline; an exhibit showing how cheese is made; information on Switzerland and Swiss culture; family histories of the Nefs and Gonzenbachs; a children’s area; facts on milk production; information on the company’s philanthropic and leadership efforts; a small theater for viewing a company history video and a counter where visitors can purchase the company’s award-winning cheese.

Special features include genuine Swiss cowbells, a 12-foot-long Alphorn, a replica 1920s-era gas pump, a life-sized fiberglass milk cow and a wooden, hand-carved and hand-built, playhouse-sized Swiss chalet.

“From project design to account management to final execution, we couldn’t imagine a better partner to work with than Paulsen,” Mischel says.

The Valley Queen Heritage Center is open to the public on south Main Street in downtown Milbank.

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