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World Dairy Expo 2019: Featured World Dairy Expo board member: ABS Global

Progressive Dairy Editorial Intern Courtney Moser Published on 30 September 2019
Chris Bultman and Tillie Vesely

For the 53 years World Dairy Expo has existed, so has the partnership with ABS Global. The company, which is known as a world-leading provider of bovine genetics, reproduction services, technologies and udder care products, has remained a longtime sponsor and board participant of the annual event.

The team at ABS Global continues to serve in a variety of ways, including sponsoring youth activities and a fan favorite: serving free donuts to cattle exhibitors.

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Dean Hermsdorf, customer service manager, has been an ABS team member heavily involved with WDE throughout the years. He and Cheri Johnson, global marketing communications manager, share with Progressive Dairy more about the many roles ABS has filled.

In what ways is ABS Global involved with World Dairy Expo?

JOHNSON: ABS Global has been involved with World Dairy Expo since the show was started. We are a founding member. Over the years, our involvement has changed. Today, we exhibit, sponsor several events (including donuts in the barns every morning) and, of course, have a seat on the board.

How long has ABS partnered as a sponsor and board participant with WDE events?

JOHNSON: ABS has partnered with World Dairy Expo since the beginning. We have had a seat on the board for more than 50 years. In fact, Dean Hermsdorf served as chairman of the Commercial Exhibitor Committee for 27 years and has been on the committee for more than 30 years.

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Dean Hermsdorf has served as a memeber of the commercial Exhibitor Committe for more than 30 years

Why do you and ABS as a whole continue to be involved with WDE?

HERMSDORF: Growing up on a small dairy near Madison, Wisconsin, I remember going to the show when I was little with my parents and seeing some of the best cows in the world. I dreamed about showing on the colored shavings. That dream fueled my passion for the show. While at the University of Wisconsin – Madison as a member of the Badger Dairy Club, I worked at the show and, upon graduation, continued to help out at the show. I was then asked by Dr. Jim Crowley Jr. to participate on an advisory committee.

WDE executive committee members

I worked with Joe Gilbert as the commercial side of the show continued to grow. That committee was then formalized as the Commercial Exhibit Committee, which I was fortunate enough to be named chairman of until stepping aside in 2019. This is the greatest dairy show in the world. The opportunity to make a difference, be around the greatest cows and the best people has powered my passion for the show and the dairy industry as a whole.

What does ABS do to promote youth activities and involvement?

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JOHNSON: ABS helps sponsor the youth judging activities held on Monday of the expo. Each year, we have several ABS employees volunteer to lead cattle in the ring for the judging. Additionally, we host about 400 4-H kids each year at our facilities in Dekorra, Wisconsin, (near Poynette) where they are given a tour and background information on the company and our involvement in the bovine genetics industry.

What sparked the idea to sponsor and serve free donuts to cattle exhibitors? What’s the purpose?

JOHNSON: Back when World Dairy Expo was started, food wasn’t readily available on the grounds. Dr. Robert E. Walton, ABS Global past president, came up with the idea of having fresh coffee, white and chocolate milk and, of course, freshly made donuts available in the barn for those doing morning chores and tending to the cattle. Chris Bultman, a herdsman for ABS, and his sister, Tillie Vesely, were among the first to push the carts through the barns, often leaving treats for those dozing. Today, the ABS tradition continues with St. Jacobs leading the charge.

What drives ABS to partner with WDE each year?

JOHNSON: ABS Global continues to be involved in World Dairy Expo annually because it represents many of the dairy industry’s finest animals and brings people from around the world together to appreciate the hard work done by youth and adults alike as they prepare for the show. Additionally, World Dairy Expo is not only an opportunity for dairy industry folks to gather but also for area youth to become more educated about the agricultural industry.  end mark

PHOTO 1: Serving donuts to cattle exhibitors has been a long-standing tradition for ABS Global. Chris Bultman and Tillie Vesely were among the first to serve treats with a smile. Photo provided by Cheri Johnson.

PHOTO 2: Dean Hermsdorf has served as a member of the Commercial Exhibitor Committee for more than 30 years. He is pictured here with other committee members. Photo provided by Dean Hermsdorf.

PHOTO 3: WDE executive committee members, including ABS’ Dean Hermsdorf, stand in front of the newly-built WDE office in 2007. Photo provided by Dean Hermsdorf.

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