ORLANDO, FLA. – The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) presented Jim Sartori and Larry Webster with the organization’s Laureate Award during Dairy Forum on Jan. 22.

Sartori is the chairman and former chief executive officer of Sartori Company, and Webster is a former CEO of Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc.

Per IDFA, it created the Laureate Award to honor dairy industry leaders for “significant, prolonged contributions” to dairy’s development and growth.

Michael Dykes, IDFA’s president and CEO, credited Sartori with taking the company “and the broader cheese industry to new heights.” Sartori became the family-owned organization’s leader in 1986.

“Jim built on his family’s tradition of excellence in cheesemaking, and he grew the company to what it is today – an internationally-renowned cheesemaking champion, the pride of Plymouth, Wisconsin, and a beloved brand in stores in every US state and 50 countries around the world,” Dykes said.

Sartori Cheese became a premium retail brand during its former CEO’s time. Sartori served on the IDFA’s Cheese Segment Board of the National Cheese Institute.

“I am very grateful and honored to receive the IDFA Laureate Award,” Sartori said. “It has been a privilege and a blessing to lead Sartori Company for the last 36 years. Thank you to our customers, team members, family farms – and God. Jan and I are proud to pass the torch to our son Bert, who represents the fourth generation of Sartori family leadership.”

Dykes called Webster, a former Upstate Niagara Cooperative CEO and O-AT-KA Milk Products general manager, an “exemplary leader who spent his distinguished career dedicated to dairy,” as well as the food and beverage business in general.

“He oversaw exponential growth and expansion into new dairy categories for Upstate Niagara,” Dykes said. “He set an example of leadership and innovation both within his company and for the entire industry.”

Webster worked exclusively in agribusiness throughout his 45-year career. After joining Upstate Niagara in 2005, he oversaw the completion of the merger of Upstate Farms Cooperative and Niagara Milk Cooperative. Webster served on the IDFA Executive Council, the IDFA Fluid Milk Board and the Milk Industry Foundation Board of Directors.

“There’s no higher award than award from peers,” Webster said. “I’ve been blessed throughout my career to be surrounded by talented, driven people. I’m so humbled and grateful to receive the IDFA Laureate Award.”

Award winners are chosen by a panel of dairy industry professionals. The candidate pool includes industry leaders, as well as standout suppliers and academics.

Past Laureate Award recipients are: Ed Mullins, senior executive officer of Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. (2022); Dan Zagzebski, president and CEO of Great Lakes Cheese (2022); Sue Taylor, vice president of dairy economics and policy for Leprino Foods Company (2021); and Andrei Mikhalevsky, former president and CEO of California Dairies, Inc. (2020).