Legacy, Family, and Purpose: Alpenrose
Let’s start with the irony: Josh Reynolds, vice president and general manager of Alpenrose Dairy is lactose intolerant. Whoa there, whaaaat????? “I think by the time I was 40,” he laughs, “my body said ‘you’ve had a lifetime of chocolate milk and pizza.’ ” Yet if ever there was a true advocate for dairy, it’s Josh. We caught up with him in April to talk about Alpenrose, how the recent pandemic is affecting their business, and the future of the dairy industry. You know, big questions like, how are you doing and will we still get to drink milkshakes? We’ll get to those in a moment.
If you grew up in Portland, Oregon, then you’ve probably played softball, raced a bike, or chased an Easter egg somewhere on the beautiful 52 acres of land in SE Portland that is Alpenrose Dairy. You may even know the Alpenrose story: how 100 years ago, Swiss-born Florian Cadonau began delivering milk in three-gallon cans by horse-drawn wagon from their dairy farm in southwest Portland to customers throughout the city. While the dairy was recently sold to Smith Brothers, an equally storied 100-year-old Northwest Dairy family, their core values – legacy, family, and purpose – haven’t changed.
These values came into play during the recent pandemic. As an essential service, Alpenrose was able to do more than keep the doors open; it actually ramped up production to meet increasing customer demand at grocery stores. “The majority of our business is through the grocery trade and larger foodservice customers such as Burgerville,” says Josh, “so our business has remained fairly strong. Businesses that provide essential products will be by their very nature in a better position to ride out the economic impact of this”. And, he adds, it’s an easier business in which to manage necessary social distancing measures compared to the meat industry, as there’s not much shoulder-to-shoulder work. This has allowed the majority of the 145 employees to continue to work to support their families AND serve their community. In fact, they brought in extra workers to help meet demand. Hmmm. And here we were, worried about the toilet paper supply vs. basic nutrition! So yeah: legacy, family, purpose.
That’s not to say there aren’t challenges. Dairy is a perishable product: the inventory needs to get out the door because it can’t be stored. Alpenrose also has a commitment to minimizing waste in all levels of operations, so products just past sell-by dates go directly to community food banks. People are also changing their dairy habits, embracing dairy alternatives like oat or almond milk. Still, Josh is confident that people will always love their cheese and butter and of course, ice cream for milkshakes. Legacy. Family. Purpose. So your milkshakes are safe, people. Alpenrose Dairy will continue to be a part of the Pacific Northwest legacy for years to come.
Flavor: Sweet Cream and base for all dairy-based shakes
Fun Fact: VP Josh Reynolds plays guitar, drums and keyboards in a cover band.