Teamwork makes the dream work: Mocksville company partners with California dairy farmer

Published 9:16 am Thursday, July 8, 2021

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By Jeanna Baxter White

Word Master Media Group

Pro Refrigeration was welcomed California dairy farmer Bill Jongsma and dealer partner Rick Mayo, San Joaquin Valley Dairy Equipment, to Mocksville to tour the manufacturing facility and to see Jongsma’s future state-of-the-art CO2 chiller system first hand.

Pro Refrigeration, the leading cooling technology and equipment provider for fermented craft beverages, dairy, and food processing, will install its first CO2-charged chiller system on Jongsma’s dairy farm in Tulare, Calif. in August.

The company has been competing to be the first U.S.-based manufacturer to add a carbon dioxide, also known as R744, chiller system to its standard product line. This is Pro’s first step in building equipment that emits no greenhouse gases.

“It’s our goal that by 2022, one of every four systems Pro produces will operate using natural refrigerants,” says Pro Refrigeration CEO Jim VanderGiessen. “Our goal is to not only lead the charge to a greener planet and better future but to deliver increased cooling efficiency, while also increasing the heat recovery to provide more hot water at higher temperatures by 300 percent.

“It’s so great to have partners traveling out to see the equipment, meet the team, and show off this great region. The bi-weekly partner video chats make the project possible, but you just can’t replace the value of a face-to-face meeting.”

They say that teamwork makes the dream work.

That sentiment certainly describes this partnership created through a 30-year working relationship built on mutual trust and respect. Each is gambling that the project will revolutionize the dairy industry and their prospective businesses.

Aware that California is one of the largest dairy markets in the US, and has a climate that truly puts a cooling system to the test, VanderGeissen approached long-time dealer partner Mayo for help finding a customer willing to partner on the new technology.

Mayo immediately thought of Jongsma, whom he’d recently sold a new high-tech milking parlor.

“Bill is always looking for a good investment. I knew this would be a good investment and something that he needed. The CO2 system will future-proof his dairy against future legislation related to coolants and allow him to get off of fossil fuels for generating hot water.”

“Being in the dairy equipment business, our future is their future. This project is a partnership for us, but it’s really future-proofing not only this particular customer but our industry as a whole within California and obviously nationwide. Worldwide for that matter. Environmental pressure is high in California, and that’s what we’re looking at. We’re looking for ways to protect our customers, protect ourselves in the process, create business and make sure that we’re here next year. Trying to find the right products that fit the needs of our customers and be here tomorrow – be sustainable.”

As a third-generation dairyman, Jongsma understands well the challenges a farm and the dairy industry face. While his farm milks 3,000 cows, his extended family of brothers, sons, and nephews milk more than 20,000 on a daily basis.

After talking with Mayo, with San Joaquin Valley Dairy Equipment, he embraced the benefits the CO2 chiller system represented.

Jongsma detailed a couple of advantages.

“Switching to the CO2 system will eliminate our need for expensive freon and the use of propane to heat water. We’ll be cutting water usage in the milk barn by half, and it should cut propane costs over a 12-month period by 60 to 70 percent. Altogether that’s a big cost saving.”

He also recognized the environmental benefits.

“Between our newly elected government, current and future regulations and the fact that our creamery is wanting to know how each dairy is helping the environment, this was a nice fit.”

“Bill Jongsma is providing Pro the perfect opportunity to prove that CO2 is not only a viable option the dairy industry should consider, but the best option available today,” said VanderGiessen.

He values that partnership that is making it all possible.

“There’s not one of us that isn’t committed fully to this project. Bill is agreeing to keep his old system connected as backup versus selling on the used market, and Rick’s investing a lot to train his employees to service the new system.  We also understand the excitement is putting several freon-based equipment upgrades on hold as other farmers wait to see how this PROGreen Solutions CO2 Chiller System operates-  and what the costs will be in comparison to a freon-based system. Right now, our target is to be onsite and cooling milk by September with a defined product offering by the end of the year.

“We do believe CO2 is the long-term solution,” VanderGiessen added. “We’re gambling on it and betting on it hard, and every step we’re taking is only reaffirming it. The potential reward for all three of us is huge.”