Making Cheese is our Family Business
Cheesemakers was founded by James C. Keliehor, P.E., but cheesemaking runs in the family. At a young age, James learned how to make dairy products from his aunt and uncle on the family farm in South Texas. Together the family made fresh butter, soft cheese curds and buttermilk. While the family didn’t know it at the time, making dairy products together was the start of the thriving family business that they are proud of today.
At Cheesemakers, we take pride in our roots. Cheesemaking in Texas is not common, but James, the son of a farmer and rancher, felt strongly about manufacturing his cheese in the Lone Star State. Today, the Cheesemakers manufacturing plant in Montgomery County has co-packing capabilities, pilot plant product development, label development, unique sizes and packaging options, and nutritional database and testing capabilities.
Certified, Safe, and Professional Facility
All Cheesemakers products are manufactured in an FDA, and Texas Dept. of Health inspected facility that is certified by a 3rd Party Audited facility by Silliker, Inc (a Mérieux NutriSciences company) and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices and Food Safety audit). We are happy to produce custom, private label products to your specifications! It’s further testament to the innovation, creativity, and dedication of the owner and staff of Cheesemakers!
You can find Cheesemakers products: Jaimito Mexican Style Cheeses (named for James’ son) and Lone Star Chevre (named for the location of the plant in Montgomery County, Texas birthplace of the Lone Star Flag and his daughter as she is his “Little Miss Lone Star”), in your favorite gourmet grocery stores, authentic restaurants and fine hotels.
James, the son of a farmer and rancher, went on to graduate from The University of Texas in Austin as a Mechanical Engineer. While working as an engineer in Houston, James started to help his cousin sell ingredients to large food processing plants. During this time, he connected his agricultural background and engineering experience and decided to start his own own manufacturing company in 1992 for automating food processing, Custom Food Equipment, Inc. (CFE).
After CFE was founded, James began to work closely with many major food manufacturing companies. His revolutionary technology was even sold to Tyson Mexican Originals where it was used to press flour tortilla dough to make all of the tortillas for Taco Bell. In the summer of 1994, James was approached by Land O’ Lakes and a partnership was formed. James was tasked with delivering and forming fresh cheddar cheese curds without damaging the delicate consistency. This process had been attempted unsuccessfully for fifty years until James applied his Positive Displacement Delivery technology. After years of experimentation with Land O’Lakes, James now has a patent pending on his design for this Cheese Curd Delivery and Forming System.
While working on this project James recognized the need for automation in the cheese industry and decided he needed a pilot plant at his equipment manufacturing facility in Montgomery County. Thus, Cheesemaker was born in 1997.
While James is the head of Cheesemakers, one thing that people always asks him about is his mom Kate. The reason that Kate is brought up by clients and partners so often is that she is a key member of the Cheesemakers team. Kate, often referred to as “The Cheese Lady”, is one of the founding members of the company along with her own mother – who gave them the seed money to start Cheesemakers.
Kate and James’ father owned several ranches in South Texas, where James picked up his passion for making dairy products. Having strong ties to James’ love for cheese, Kate was the ideal person to help James with his vision of the Cheesemakers brand. After 50 years of living in Alice, TX, Kate moved to Montgomery County help James mold Cheesemakers into the thriving, family business that it is today. One of Kate’s favorite things to do is to give tours of their facility in Montgomery County and thoroughly enjoys telling the story of the brand and how her family is the driving force behind the company.
A Special Thanks to Granny Betty
We would not be in business without the investment of money, time and encouragement from my granny Betty W. Harris. She served as CFO of Cheesemakers from our start in 1997 to when we lost her. We miss her very much. July 4th, 1918 – May 14, 2003.
Cheesemakers is a proud member of GO TEXAN which represents Texas agri-business on a state, national and international level by building recognition for the GO TEXAN mark and helping you find Texas products