Under the deal’s terms, Vermont Creamery—known for its range of fresh goat and cow’s milk cheeses, crème fraîche, and cultured butter—will become an independently operated subsidiary. It will keep its operations in Websterville, Vt., and president Adeline Druart, the management team, and all employees will stay on.
The creamery was founded by Bob Reese and Allison Hooper in 1984. For them, selling the business had been on their minds for some time; according to a blog post penned by Hooper, she and Reese spent several years “searching for the right partner.”
“As we experience unprecedented growth, we need a partner who can bring the resources and expertise necessary to help us realize our vision and the potential of our business,” said Hooper in a press release.
Reese adds, “After years of thoughtful planning and a rigorous selection process, we are confident that we have found the best steward of our business, values, and people in Land O’Lakes. We are both respected dairy brands with deep connections to farmers and an unyielding commitment to quality and innovation.”
Land O’Lakes Inc., based in Arden Mills, Minn., is one of America’s largest cooperatives, farmer-owned since 1921. In addition to its eponymous dairy line, Land O’Lakes owns dairy brands Alpine Lace (acquired in 1997) and Kozy Shack (acquired in 2012). Its annual sales in 2016 totaled $13 billion.
“We purchased Vermont Creamery and welcome them to the Land O’Lakes family because we love their brand and would like to help bring it to even more people,” said Land O’Lakes President and CEO Chris Policinski in a press release.
Reese and Hooper will now serve as Vermont Creamery advisors and brand ambassadors, attending industry events, speaking on behalf of the creamery, and advising the management team during the transition.
“We’re planning on being hands-on as much as we’re asked and as much [as] the team needs,” Hooper tells culture. “We’ve spent years building and mentoring our president, Adeline Druart, and our management team. They’re well-prepared for the opportunities of this transition and have a clear idea of where they will take the business with Land O’Lakes’ support.”
This transaction conjures up feelings of delight, elation, nostalgia, and relief for the co-founders, calling the last 33 years with Vermont Creamery “a good run.” But after devoting so much time to their company, they’re both ready to focus more on their personal lives.
“Bob and I are both looking forward to spending more time in Vermont—time with family, time on the farm, and time with our new grandchildren,” Hooper says.
Hooper also says she understands the unease some may feel when specialty producers are acquired by major companies. However, she emphasizes that many aspects of the business will stay the course and expresses confidence in this new partnership with Land O’Lakes.
“Our commitment to quality will remain unchanged, our team will remain in place, we’ll still make our beloved products in Websterville, Vt.,” says Hooper. “This is our secret sauce and will not change.”