Sequim’s family owned creamery and dairy farm is expanding its business to consumers in and around the Bellingham area.
Ryan and Sarah McCarthey, owners of the Dungeness Valley Creamery at 1915 Towne Road, merged with fellow raw milk dairy producers Jackie’s Jerseys of Bellingham as of Aug. 1.
The McCartheys said this was a good business opportunity for their company.
“It’s exciting to bring more opportunity to Clallam County,” Ryan said.
His wife Sarah also echoed his sentiments.
“This merger was really a great opportunity for us,” Sarah said. “One of the most exciting things that came out of this is that we are now able to offer more employees full-time work!”
Ryan said Bill and Jackie Degroot, previous owners of Jackie’s Jerseys, have known the McCartheys since the 1970s and are friends with the creamery’s previous owners Jeff and Debbie Brown — Sarah’s parents — and over the past 11 years the farms have operated similarly producing certified, whole raw milk from 100 percent registered Jersey herds.
The Degroots approached the McCartheys about taking over their company’s business, including their accounts, brand and a few of their Jersey cows upon retiring from their small-scale farm. The McCartheys said they hope to continue the Degroots’ legacy through their product.
“My hope is that Bill and Jackie will feel like their brand lived on through us,” Ryan said.
“It feels really meaningful and rewarding to be a part of carrying on the legacy of two very hard-working couples,” Sarah said.
“They are the ones who really put blood, sweat and tears into their farms and enabled us to purchase two successful businesses.”
The Dungeness Valley Creamery will now distribute their products throughout Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish and San Juan counties.
What consumers can expect
Ryan said the company will continue to distribute milk and cream with the Jackie’s Jersey’s logo on the bottles for now to ease customers into the transition along the Jackie’s Jerseys route and retail stores, but in the future the bottles eventually will be distributed with the Dungeness Valley Creamery’s brand and logo.
“We want to get the word out that Dungeness Valley Creamery is now bottling Jackie’s Jersey’s milk,” Ryan said.
He believes it should be an easy transition for consumers.
“There’s a lot of synergy between us,” Ryan said. “The transition for consumers should be an easy one.”
He said both of the dairy farms use similar practices and hold the same values so the product quality and taste should be a match for customers along the Jackie’s Jerseys’ route and those purchasing the milk in retail stores.
Ryan said Dungeness Valley Creamery will do its best to keep all the same customers on the Jackie’s Jerseys route and will be distributing products Monday through Friday to accommodate more business since the merger.
He said many customers along the Jackie’s Jerseys’ route in Bellingham already know of Dungeness Valley Creamery and have met the change with a positive response so far.
He also said the prices for raw milk and cream for both the Dungeness Valley Creamery and Jackie’s Jersey’s consumers will not change.
“We haven’t raised prices since 2006 when we started and we don’t have any plans to in the near future,” Ryan said. “We really believe in our product and making it more affordable to everyone.”
Adjusting to transition
The McCartheys said the most difficult part of the transition so far has been meeting the demand of new customers, especially for producing enough cream for both of the farms’ consumers.
Ryan said Dungeness Valley Creamery usually sells out of cream each week and it is a difficult process to maintain for both farms because the milk goes through a secondary process.
“With any growing changes comes growing pains and we are definitely feeling it,” Sarah said.
“We are building relationships with our new customers, balancing our milk supply so that every order is filled, figuring out how many extra bottles and caps we’ll need, transitioning labels from Jackie’s Jerseys to Dungeness Valley Creamery …”
While the McCartheys may be feeling the growing pains of acquiring more business, they also have been able to provide full-time jobs for their staff of an estimated 10 employees, something they have wanted to offer them for a while.
“We are blessed with wonderful employees and are excited to provide full-time work and an opportunity to make a real living working for Dungeness Valley Creamery,” Sarah said.
“Our staff is very committed and dedicated to building a brand and company,” Ryan said. “I want it to be a great place to work and great business.”
Dungeness Valley Creamery will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony at 5:15 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17, at 1915 Towne Road to celebrate the merger between the two dairy farms. Weather permitting, the creamery will play a movie after the ribbon cutting when it gets dark, approximately between 8-8:30 p.m.