Episode 70 – Alan Reed, Reed’s Dairy
Your Local Milkman
The Reed's 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,” Alan said.
Reed's Dairy has always been in milk delivery. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many dairy's 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,” Alan said. They have maintained about 2/3 of the customers who signed up for home delivery during the start of the pandemic.
In the beginning, Alan 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,” Alan said. Alan had attended Rick's College (now BYU-Idaho) and had 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,” Alan said.
Eventually taking over operations and positioning himself as the 4th generation of the legacy, Alan 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 Alan 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,” Alan 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,” Alan said. Reed's Dairy has multiple specialty milk flavors that are produced and sold at various times during the year.
Around 1986 Alan added cheese to their line of products. That included cheese curds. Again Alan went back for special training this time on how to make cheese. “Most of our cheese is sold as fresh cheese curds,” Alan explained, “It's very popular.” Wanting to improve his cheese sales he also added grilled cheese sandwiches to compliment the ice cream that was sold to customers at their stores.
Reed's Dairy has continued to grow and they opened a store in Ammon around 6 1/2 years ago. They are also in Boise with two store locations and robust home delivery. Alan's son Sam has joined the business and has been a catalyst for opening the stores in Boise.
Family is very important to Alan and he feels a deep responsibility to honor the Reed name. “I've grown up with a really deep commitment to family,” Alan said. Alan also had a mentor who taught him how to deal with people and to serve. “When I had a chance to deal with the customers, I liked dealing with them. I loved helping them in whatever way I could,” Alan said.
Alan Reed prides himself on the quality of Reed's Dairy products. “I would rather make the best than just make something,” Alan said. He feels his business is successful due to the integrity the business has been built upon. “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,” Alan said.
When feelings of doubt enter Alan's 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 okay,” Alan said. He feels his biggest risk was going to Boise because it was hard to be so far away and he believes in a very hands-on approach. He admits that he's learned that it works out especially when you have a strong team.
Alan is proud that the future of Reed's Dairy is to continue to serve in the community and to be a benefit to the residents. The Reed legacy continues and includes Alan's son Sam who is on track to be the 5th generation owner at some point in the future.
Thank you to James from Disruptive Productions for editing the show. You can learn more at https://www.facebook.com/disruptiveproductions.
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