Yancey’s Fancy’s success spreads through region

Dec 31, 2015

Yancey’s Fancy showed off its new and expanded old facilities earlier this month, noting that the changes will equip it to take in 600,000 pounds of milk a day, compared with the 140,000 to 230,000 per day it currently uses.

Now there’s a company that knows what to do with milk. It makes cheese — currently around 12 million pounds annually. It’s a local success story that has evolved into much more.

Kutter’s Cheese had its beginnings with Leo Kutter, who immigrated from Germany in 1923 and settled in Cowlesville. In 1947 he moved his cheese production to Corfu, to the Main Street location familiar to many longtime area residents. His sons, Anthony and Richard, entered the business and assured that the factory continued to produce high-quality cheddar, muenster, Colby, edam, gouda, Havarti and process cheeses. The retail store became a landmark, drawing customers from near and far. In 1998, the Kutters sold the factory business to Yancey’s Fancy Inc. Yancey’s grew the business, expanding into new varieties, while the Kutters retained and expanded the factory outlet store until 2009, when the brothers sold Kutter’s Cheese Factory store to Brian and Heather Bailey and Christine Adamczak. Mr. Bailey had also bought into the cheese factory in 1995, and he became a partner with John Yancey and Mike Wimble in starting Yancey’s Fancy.

The melding of Kutter’s and Yancey’s was exactly the right formula for super success. New varieties brought new demands, and to keep up, Yancey’s committed to renovating the “old” 30,000-square-foot factory and building a new 112,000-square-foot production facility across the road. The facility, just west of the intersection of routes 5 and 77 in Pembroke, is massive and impressive.

Mr. Bailey can describe the many challenges Yancey’s has faced as the business grew to beyond capacity. The company invested in new equipment, worked in cramped conditions and made do until the new facility could provide adequate space for aging cheese, warehousing it and shipping it. Despite the space crunch, exploration of new varieties, which inevitably created more demand, never stopped.

“We’ve developed some neat stuff,” Mr. Bailey said. “We have a dozen new flavored cheeses drawn up, tested in research and development.” It’s about always trying for what he calls the “Wow” experience with the first bite of Yancey’s cheese. That is the experience Leo Kutter undoubtedly sought to put into the cheese he produced in 1923. The cheese varieties may have changed as new people became involved in the operation, but it is this attitude, this enthusiasm, that has fostered continued success, and not just for Yancey’s. The success spills over into the region, in markets for milk producers, jobs for people, and a product in which the region can take pride. Aging makes the cheddar sharper; apparently, aging has sharpened this cheese business, as well.

-The Daily News