When Foremost Farms USA needed to double cheese production at their facility in Appleton, Wisconsin, they looked to Bassett Mechanical.

With more cheese and dairy experience than any mechanical contractor in Wisconsin, Bassett had worked with the Baraboo-based milk processing cooperative on numerous projects. According to Larry Lonadier, Bassett senior project manager, this was the largest food processing project Bassett had undertaken. It involved two phases—centralizing Foremost Farms’ ammonia compressor system, and installing new process plumbing and piping at the production facility.

Merl Jones, director of engineering at Foremost Farms, said they selected Bassett for the job based on quality past performance. Jones worked directly with Bassett’s on-site team during the entire project.

“Bassett has done a great job; they’ve kept on schedule, and everything has been performing very well,” said Jones.


The first phase involved decommissioning two existing ammonia engine rooms and replacing them with a new 41 foot by 46 foot single-room system on an external wall. Bassett fabricated and installed two ammonia vessels for the room and six smaller vessels for the roof, as well as a new control system. Bassett’s redesign plan helped Foremost Farms to lower energy consumption and receive energy grants from Focus on Energy.

Lonadier said the biggest challenge was bringing the new system online without any unscheduled interruptions to production. “We had just two days to decommission the existing system and bring it online to service the plant,” explained Lonadier. “That was a tight window, but it went flawlessly. The whole team deserves kudos.”


The second phase required 28 on-site Bassett employees. Bassett installed a new boiler, and four and half miles of process plumbing and piping throughout the production facility. Known for their safety and sanitation protocol, Bassett was able to work in production areas during operation.

“Our crew was spread along the entire facility, trying to meet the owner’s schedule, while still being safe,” said Lonadier. “Just the logistics of moving tools and people through production rooms takes careful effort and close-knit working relationship with the customer.”

Even though the scope of the project increased from the beginning, Lonadier said Bassett was able to remain on schedule. He credits the on-site supervision team, along with Foremost Farms’ Jones, for the project’s success.