Thursday, July 9, 2020

Your Local Milkman | Alan Reed, Reed's Dairy

Alan Reed
The Reed's Dairy legacy started with farming and worked its way to adding the dairy through three generations. Alan Reed's uncle added milk cows to their operation and sold milk to the public in the 1950s. In 1962, they added their own processing equipment and started packaging it themselves. They also had a home delivery service at that time. “We packaged our milk and delivered it to the door,” he said.

Reed's Dairy has always been in milk delivery. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many dairys were having to dump their milk. Reed's Dairy didn't experience the same impact, and that was primarily due to their home delivery service. Already having that infrastructure in place, they were able to increase their home delivery customers. “We were gathering new customers quickly. We have great people and they stepped up to meet the need and put in a lot of hours,” he said. They have maintained about two-thirds of the customers who signed up for home delivery during the start of the pandemic.

In the beginning, Reed didn't see himself as being a milkman. “I was raised on the farming side and I didn't really do much with the cows,” he said. He had attended Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) and studied accounting. His father asked him to help his uncle with the dairy side and be involved in running the business. When spring came and he wanted to go back to farming, his father asked him to stay and help in the dairy. “When the brothers divided their operation up, I stayed on the dairy side,” he said.

Eventually taking over operations and positioning himself as the fourth generation of the legacy, Reed felt like it made sense to expand and use their cream to make ice cream. The famous ice cream is Reed's Dairy's own special recipe, and he even attended special training to learn how to make ice cream to perfect the Reed's formula. “That's been a lifesaver for Reed's Dairy -- to have that ice cream business -- because it has become really popular,” he said.

Another favorite product that people come miles for is Reed's Dairy chocolate milk. “We have a lot of out-of-state license plates in our parking lot during the summer, and I see them packing out multiple bottles of chocolate milk and putting it in their cooler,” he said. Reed's Dairy has multiple specialty milk flavors that are produced and sold at various times during the year.

Around 1986, Reed added cheese to their line of products. That included cheese curds. Again, he went back for special training. “Most of our cheese is sold as fresh cheese curds,” he said. “It's very popular.” Wanting to improve his cheese sales he also added grilled cheese sandwiches, to complement the ice cream that was sold to customers at their stores.

Reed's Dairy has continued to grow. They opened a store in Ammon around 6 1/2 years ago, and are also in Boise, with two store locations and robust home delivery. Alan's son Sam has joined the business, and has been the catalyst for opening the stores in Boise.

Family is very important to Reed and he feels a deep responsibility to honor the name. “I've grown up with a really deep commitment to family,” he said.

Reed prides himself on the quality of Reed's Dairy products. “I would rather make the best than just make something,” he said. He feels his business is successful due to integrity built over the years. “Your brand is your promise to your customer. If you break that promise you have no brand. Understand your brand and fulfill it every day,” he said.

When feelings of doubt enter his mind, his approach is to plow forward -- with caution. “I let it evolve, if it naturally comes around and everything falls into place, we move ahead. If it easily comes together it's probably going to be OK,” he said. He said his biggest risk was expanding to Boise, because it was hard to be so far away and he believes in a very hands-on approach. But risks are worth taking if you know you have a strong team.


For more information on Reed's Dairy or to set up home delivery, visit their site at https://reedsdairy.com/. You can also find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ReedsDairy/.