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'We Made It Through:' Fairview Cheese Factory Recovering From Pandemic Shut Down

MERCER COUNTY, Pa. (KDKA) - Nine miles north of Mercer on Route 19 you will come to the Fairview Cheese Factory, a multigenerational family operation.

The Koller family makes a highly sought-after swiss cheese but found themselves in an unbelievable situation when everything shut down last March.

From floor to ceiling the cheese was stacked, all packed up, and nowhere to go.

We are talking about a lot of cheese - two million pounds of cheese!

Just sitting.

The restaurants, the schools, the delis, all over Pennsylvania and the northeast were shut down and certainly not in need of Fairview's prized product.

Richard Koller and his sons had to shut down the operation and they know that hurt the dairy farmers who took major milk losses.

Idled in survival mode the family vowed not to lay off any employees.

"We made it through everybody kept working," Richard said. "We kept them here we did other things, cleaning, renewing, painting, everybody's happy, everybody's still here."

Meanwhile, as the country remained shut down the cheese just sat.

Then about a month after operations were halted some things started opening back up and the cheese started moving out the door.

Richard beams in response to the question of what happened to two million pounds of cheese.

"It is now sold and consumed! It is on a dinner plate, or on a sandwich. It has gone," he said.

The orders are returning now and the factory is back to running at full speed churning out the cheese.

"Today, just another 34,000 pounds," Koller said.

Koller says the cows are happy too.

Richard Koller says their losses are in the low six figures but it could have been much worse and he says a lot of other people were hurt a lot more.

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