To catch a cone man

At the start of a tour, John Wilhelm, plant manager for BoDeans Baking Group in Le Mars, IA, stands near cone processing equipment.

At the start of a tour, John Wilhelm, plant manager for BoDeans Baking Group in Le Mars, IA, stands near wafer processing equipment.

It’s easy to see that John Wilhelm is one busy guy.

Recognized as the boss donned from head to toe in white food factory overalls, he is the plant manager for BoDeans Baking Group, an ice cream cone producer in Le Mars, IA.

Wilhelm believes in keeping to a production schedule, and that’s one of the reasons why BoDeans provides great service to purchasers like Wells, Inc., which owns the Blue Bunny® ice cream brand.

Make no mistake: Wilhelm’s anti-static protective shoe covers don’t slow him down. Camera and film crews often have a tough time getting a hold of him for a private plant tour, but he made an exception for a Basin Electric communications crew in April. BoDeans gets its electricity from North West Rural Electric Cooperative, a Basin Electric Class C member.

As the Basin Electric group dodges the rain and enters the building’s front doors, Wilhelm swings by and offers a quick welcome. (Read the Basin Today story the crew was there to get: Sweet deal)

While the Basin Electric photographer, videographer and writer set up their equipment in the plant’s lobby, Wilhelm tosses them matching white overalls and asks them to follow him into the plant.

Check out the following photos from Basin Electric’s private tour, which portray parts of the BoDeans baking process!

Steve Kolker, member service director for North West Rural Electric Cooperative, (right) asks BoDeans Plant Manager John Wilhelm about the extended cone-baking oven behind him. The oven was imported from Germany.

Steve Kolker, member service director for North West Rural Electric Cooperative, (right) asks BoDeans Plant Manager John Wilhelm about the extended cone-baking oven behind him. The oven was imported from Germany.

From the extended oven, round wafer pieces are quickly transferred to rotating wheels that twist the wafers into a cone shape.

From the extended oven, round wafer pieces are quickly transferred to rotating wheels that twist the wafers into a cone shape.

Once the cones are shaped, they're unloaded in a packaging area and stacked by hand. BoDeans has the capacity to produce more than 1.5 billion wafers annually.

Once the cones are shaped, they're unloaded in a packaging area and stacked by hand. BoDeans has the capacity to produce more than 1.5 billion wafers annually.

A BoDeans employee sorts cones one at a time.

A BoDeans employee sorts cones one at a time.

Some cones receive special wrapping. BoDeans produces for numerous ice cream companies.

Some cones receive special wrapping. BoDeans produces for numerous ice cream companies.

A BoDeans employee counts cones that have received wrappers.

A BoDeans employee counts cones that have received wrappers.

Once cones are packaged, they're sent to companies like Wells, Inc., which is headquartered in Le Mars, IA. The company purchases cones, to be included with its Blue Bunny ice cream, directly from BoDeans.

Once cones are packaged, they’re sent to companies like Wells, Inc., which is headquartered in Le Mars, IA. The company purchases cones, to be included with its Blue Bunny ice cream, directly from BoDeans.

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