I hope everyone well and safe during these unprecedented times. Thanksgiving is upon us and it’s a natural time for reflection with only a few short weeks left in 2020.
It’s the 4th quarter of the year, a time where most companies push their marketing message louder than ever before and sales teams are trying to hit their revenue goals. You might see Milton Creamery doing the same, whether it’s a demo in store or an extra email in your inbox.
But right now, we’d like to take a brief pause and do something that we believe all companies, both large and small, should do every once in a while. And that is an explanation. We think that at this point most people understand WHAT we do, but we’d like to tell you more about WHY we do it. So here we go.
We are simply a small family-owned business that makes award-winning cheese. That’s what we do. But the reason why we do it is much bigger and far more important than us.
When my family set out to create Milton Creamery 14 years ago, we did it out of necessity. We wanted to help provide a more viable and economically sound solution for the small, local, and family-owned dairy farms in our community. We felt that if it was done right, and we made a cheese that people would truly enjoy, that just maybe we could place a higher value on our neighbor’s milk than the other milk buyers in our area and help support our local dairy farms. In a nutshell, that’s WHY we are in business and a huge part of why I am a co-CEO in the company today.
Fast forward to 2020. At the very beginning of the year, we were nearing the completion of our largest expansion. This expansion was intended to lay the groundwork for us to make, age, cut and pack more cheese than we ever could have dreamed of when we started. Also, while this new building was being built, we made a decision that we would use the construction time to also build up our inventory. So, we took on more local, small family owned dairy farms and began buying their milk to turn into award winning cheese.
Just a few weeks after we cut the ribbon and moved our cheese into our brand new, state of the art facility, COVID-19 was beginning to show itself and the harm it can do in our local community. Customers were cancelling their orders, trucks containing orders that had already shipped were being turned around and we were left with a lot of wind taken out of our sails.
Like many artisan cheesemakers (and business of all types) in the US, we have been hit very, very hard.
But despite all that has happened, we have always stayed true to our WHY.
We have continued to pick up every last drop of milk that our family farms have to offer and work so hard for until last weekend when we had some employees test positive for Covid-19. We dumped 2 day of production to allow us to do a deep clean of the facility and try to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. We have continued to pay a premium price for that milk as well. In fact, we also took on 2 additional family farms since March to keep our milk volume up as we had 2 sell out for health reasons and other.
But our “community” doesn’t just mean our local dairy farms either. At Milton Creamery, we employ over 30 people who are our friends and neighbors. We provide meaningful work, opportunities for personal and professional growth, and we again pay a premium for their dedication and service. Our employees are an extension of our family and nothing is more important to us than family.
Since the start of the pandemic, we have not only maintained our employee count, but we have actually added to it. And we keep adding to it. We have more employees on the payroll today than we did in March for no other reason than we want to help these wonderful humans that make us who we are. Jobs in our neck of the woods are not the easiest to come by, and very few are willing to pay what we do for good work. This isn’t what most employers would choose to do, but it’s what we know we have to do. It’s our reason for being.
Again, this is WHY we are in business.
This summer was the slowest (from a sales and business perspective) that we have experienced since our earliest days. It was heart breaking to see our staff feeling uneasy because there just wasn’t enough work for everyone. So, this summer, we decided to reduce their days to 4 days/week but still maintained the number of hours worked/paid for each of them. We think they enjoyed it very much!
So why are we taking the time to explain the WHY behind our business? We are doing so because we want you to know that each and every time you buy our cheese you are truly doing something greater yourself.
It doesn’t matter if it’s from one of the great cheese shops or grocers we are so proud to be in, at your local restaurant where we are honored to be on the menu, or even from our own website that we hastily created at the start of the pandemic with the hope that we could make our award winning cheeses more available to those who cannot buy it locally, it all supports the same mission. You are helping to support a community of small, family-owned dairy farmers and wonderful individuals who are eternally grateful for your support.
So, when you see “MILK PRODUCED ON SMALL FAMILY FARMS” on our packaging, this is what we mean, and this is WHY we do it. Thank you for your ongoing support.