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Meet the Producer: Jeanette Dufeck

Office & Sales Manager of Dufeck Wood Products, Denmark, Wis.
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After 20 years as a dental hygenist, Jeanette Dufeck decided it was time to join the family business. While she loved her job, she also felt that it was important to be a part of the family legacy of making all-natural, sustainable, American-made wood products, such as cheese boxes sold at stores like Zingerman’s Delicatessen, Beecher’s Cheese and Pastoral Market. She was a perfect fit. “I had 20 years of customer service experience, an appreciation for detail and being precise, and doing it right,” Dufeck says—all traits that would benefit her in her new role at Dufeck Wood Products, a 108-year-old company. Dufeck’s husband Paul started there in 1973, and Jeanette joined him in 1990 as office and sales manager.

It hasn't always been smooth sailing for the business. The business has survived a fire, a rebuilding and the depression—but has always adapted to customer needs. Besides cheese boxes, the company has made a variety of products, changing as the market demanded. The first generation sold home-building supplies much in demand at the time; the second generation shifted manufacturing to milk, soda and beer cases. When plastic took over, Dufeck began making specialized pallets, skids and industrial shipping boxes for local manufacturing companies. Today its crating travels the world carrying everything from office furniture to hospital beds, while the food side makes up 25 percent of the business.

Most recently, the fourth generation—Jeanette and Paul's son, Andy—has joined the company. Currently transitioning to have Andy take over, Dufeck continues to adapt to the times while keeping true to Dufeck’s legacy of providing the highest-quality wood products to meet the needs of its diverse customer base.

Dufeck shares more about her inspirations, perks of the job and what she always keeps in stock at home.

Any interesting culinary experiences lately?

I always like to eat at local restaurants when I travel, off the beaten path. My favorite is in Puerto Vallarta, where we’re going soon. There’s a seafood truck called Cuetos. It’s not in the restaurant area but they have fresh seafood to die for. We’re always sure we go there twice and have their seafood stew with octopus, squid, sea bass, shrimp, green peppers and tomatoes.

Who is your culinary idol?

Lately, I’ve been watching Martha Stewart on PBS. She’s doing a series on basic cooking lessons. My 7-year-old granddaughter was here and we were watching how to do eggs. I thought I knew everything about eggs! It was fascinating how Lucy, who wanted to watch cartoons when she came over, was as fascinated by it as well. It’s a nice thing to share with her. For Christmas, she gave me the cookbook from the show. Everyone should have it!

Biggest perk of your job?

Going to the Fancy Food Show. They’re a lot of work, but I love to travel, meet people and eat good food.

What’s your guilty food pleasure?

I have a basic sweet tooth that runs in the family. So chocolate it is.

What three items can you always find in your kitchen?

Assorted olive oils and vinegars, a variety of cheese from local producers (trust me, when they’re no cheese in the house, we’ve got problems) and farm-fresh eggs.

If you weren’t working the family business, what would you like to be doing instead?

I would love to work in the floral industry. Gardening is my passion.


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