Dairy Maid Dairy, a family-owned processor of milk, juice and fruit drinks in Frederick, has been sold.
Dairy Farmers of America, the nation’s largest dairy farmer-owned milk marketing cooperative, recently bought the business. The cooperative consists of more than 8,000 farm families in 48 states.
Dairy Maid has been owned and operated by the Vona family since 1946 and is led by brothers Jimmy and Jody Vona, who instituted the sale and will continue to manage the company’s day-to-day operations.
“Jody and I both had health issues a few years ago, and we realized if something were to happen to both of us that would affect the ongoing operation of the business, we wanted the business to continue,” Jimmy Vona said.
The transaction will not affect the company’s 110 employees, 75 percent of whom live in Frederick, the Vonas said.
“Everybody stays,” Jody Vona said. “That’s the reason we did it. We did it to protect our employees. The company’s name will not change, and we’re still co-presidents. Everything will stay the same. We want to be able to drive by and see Dairy Maid Dairy on this corner in another 30 years.”
Jimmy Vona said the value of the transaction is private, but he added that the real estate value of the property at 259 E. Seventh St. exceeds $4 million.
The acquisition of Dairy Maid Dairy aligns with Dairy Farmers of America’s strategy to increase its commercial footprint and expand ownership in the fluid and fresh dairy category, DFA President and CEO Rick Smith said in a statement.
“The Vonas have built a solid business and earned a reputation for quality products and superior service and is a business our dairy farmer member owners can be proud of,” Smith said.
The Vonas said they looked at a number of buyers and settled on a farmer-owned cooperative with a focus on marketing their farmers’ milk as opposed to a stock market-driven company or somebody who was naive about the milk business.
“We wanted someone with a proven track record,” Jimmy Vona said.
The Vonas have already hired a general manager, David Staz, to help with the transition. Staz’s family owned a dairy processing plant in Harrisburg, Pa., similar to Dairy Maid Dairy, he said.
Dairy Farmers of America has expanded its commercial investments in the fluid milk and ice cream category in the past couple of years, according to the company. DFA acquired Kemps and Guida’s Dairy, a family-owned business much like Dairy Maid, and now Dairy Maid.
In addition to relying on DFA to pick up their milk and deliver it to milk customers, “these hardworking farm families rely on us to bring them additional value, and one way in which we do that is to invest in plants and products like Dairy Maid,” the company said.
“The member owners and employees of DFA live by the same values that the Vonas and their employees live by: quality, integrity, passion, accountability, community and innovation,” the company said. “Like the Vonas and their employees, we are committed to producing quality dairy products for consumers to enjoy for years to come.
“We look forward to working with Jimmy and Jody Vona, who have agreed to continue to direct the day-to-day operations of Dairy Maid. We are pleased to be able to retain their excellent employee base and are committed to continuing to ensure the same quality product and service is produced at Dairy Maid. Lastly, we look forward to being good partners with the community of Frederick.”
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