Umpqua Dairy Products is celebrating — again.
The family-owned Roseburg-based business won three awards at the Quality Chekd Dairies conference late last month in New Orleans. Umpqua Dairy received the 2013 Production Excellence Award as the best single production plant within Quality Chekd’s membership of 31 independent dairy processors, and its small curd cottage cheese and vanilla ice cream were selected by an independent panel of judges as “National Best of Show.”
Umpqua Dairy was also a finalist for the Total Quality Excellence Award, Quality Chekd’s most prestigious honor.
The Roseburg company last won the production award in 1997 and has been a finalist for it eight times since.
“To be in the running for this award against national companies that are much bigger than we are is a real testament to our crew’s talent and dedication to provide the best quality dairy products that our customers can buy,” Umpqua Dairy President Doug Feldkamp said. “We have to provide the best quality and service out there, day in and day out. That’s the culture of our company.”
Peter Horvath, president of Quality Chekd, said the award “signifies superior production excellence.”
The other finalists for the production award were Hiland Dairy Foods Company of Norman, Okla., Hiland-Roberts Ice Cream Company of Norfolk, Neb., and Sunshine Dairy Foods East of Portland.
John Harvey, director of plant operations for Umpqua Dairy, said the facility has 75 employees in production. They work in the cooler, freezer, plant, maintenance, laboratory and receiving.
“We strive to put out a top quality product day in and day out,” said Harvey, a 30-year employee of the dairy. “It’s a matter of paying attention to detail and having long-term employees here who do a great job.
“I can speak for the staff,” he added. “We’re very proud of it. It means so much because we know how difficult it is to win.”
Umpqua Dairy sends monthly samples of its ice cream (vanilla and chocolate), cottage cheese, sour cream and milk to a laboratory in Chicago. Flavors are evaluated, product shelf life is tested and overall quality is judged. The top four facilities are then audited with the same judge visiting each plant for two days.
Harvey explained that state inspectors visit the facility monthly to take samples and do tests, but the Quality Chekd standards are even more stringent.
“These awards are so competitive that if you fall down in one little detail, you’re not going to win,” Harvey said.
Guy Weakley, who has worked for the dairy for 14 years and has been quality assurance manager for the past seven years, said the production award is validation of the staff’s hard work and teamwork.
“For production, this is kind of the pinnacle, the best of the best,” Weakley said. “It shows our hard work is paying off. It also shows consumers can trust the standards we have here at the dairy, that they’re in good hands when they’re consuming our products.”
At the New Orleans conference, Umpqua Dairy was also recognized with 13 Merit of Excellence awards in marketing and Merit of Excellence awards in milk, ice cream and cultured dairy product quality.
“What’s really important for a company like ours that’s a regional dairy processor is to have some sort of benchmark we can always strive to achieve,” Feldkamp said.
“To compete at the national level against companies much bigger than we are tells us how we are doing. It inspires us to continuously get better. We want to make sure our customers get the best quality dairy products money can buy.”
• News-Review business reporter Craig Reed can be reached by calling 541-957-4210 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We want to make sure our customers get the best quality dairy products money can buy
Doug Feldkamp, Umpqua Dairy president