Umpqua Dairy Products Co. dates back to 1931, when Ormond Feldkamp and Herb Sullivan, with $500 between them, founded the company. They started out with a 1929 Hudson delivery truck and a little wooden ice house next to the railroad tracks on Sykes Street in Roseburg. The two men began bottling milk, churning butter and making ice cream to sell to railroad passengers as they stopped at the train station. Soon they began delivering throughout Douglas County. Over the decades the company grew and prospered. In 1953 Sullivan sold his share of the business to Feldkamp. About a decade later Ormond Feldkamp was succeeded by his son, Barton D. (Bob) Feldkamp. In 1985, Feldkamp’s son Doug returned to the company, as did his brother, Steve, three years later. The two Felkdamps have run the company ever since — Doug now as president and Steve as chief operating officer. Today the company sells its products in nine states and employs about 270 people. On Oct. 30, Umpqua Dairy shook Roseburg when the company announced it was being sold to Producers Dairy, another family-owned business based in Fresno, California. The News-Review talked to Steve Feldkamp about the sale, and what it means for Umpqua Dairy, its employees and the community.
Question: What prompted the sale?
Answer: After dedicating 30+ years each (Steve and Doug Feldkamp) to Umpqua Dairy and with retirement edging closer, a decision had to be made regarding the future of the dairy and the wellbeing of the employees. There is not a fourth generation currently involved in the company to take over management and production of the business, so alternative solutions needed to be considered to guarantee the legacy of our company.
Q: How did the connection of the two companies happen?
A: The dairy industry tends to be a tight-knit community and we have known the Shehadey family for a long time. Producers Dairy is also a third generation family-owned business that started in 1932. They understand the commitment that a family-owned business has towards its employees, communities, and the customers it serves. They are a member of the Quality Chekd organization, just like Umpqua Dairy, and we have served on several boards together over the years.
Q: Why are they a good fit?
A: As another third generation family-owned business, Producers Dairy is in a unique position to understand the importance we place on taking care of our employees, being involved and giving back to the communities we are in, and providing the highest quality dairy products we possibly can. They share our values, culture, and goals for the future of the Umpqua Dairy brand and the people who make that possible.
Q: What kind of changes are expected for Umpqua Dairy employees and operations?
A: Umpqua Dairy products, recipes, production processes, employee staffing, and distribution facilities etc. will remain the same. I will remain with the company for at least another year, and Doug Feldkamp, CEO, will remain with the company at least another three years in his current role. Our commitment to quality, award-winning products will not change.
Q: How many employees does Umpqua Dairy have and what will happen to them?
A: There are currently 269 people employed by Umpqua Dairy. There are no changes that will be made to employees. Staffing, distribution facilities across the state, and the high-quality Umpqua Dairy products, recipes, production processes and commitment to excellence will remain the same.
Q: There have been some negative reactions to the sale here in Roseburg. What is your response to people who are disappointed/worried about the sale?
A: We understand that people are worried and disappointed with this transition. Change is always scary and hard. However, we are doing what we feel is best in the situation we find ourselves in. There is no one in the fourth generation currently working within the dairy that can take over the operations. We are determined to make sure that all our employees are taken care of and ensured continued employment, which in turn helps support the local communities where our people work and live. We want to make sure that the Umpqua Dairy brand, products, recipes, production processes and quality continue on long into the future. We hope to see it grow even larger, to employ more people and have positive impacts on the local communities.
Q: What can Umpqua do to make sure it doesn’t lose these customers?
A: We want to thank everyone for their past loyalty and for their continued loyalty and support. Our commitment to producing the highest quality dairy products has not and will not change with the transfer of ownership. Our commitment to providing stable, competitive employment to local residents and supporting our local communities is also as solid as ever. While we can issue as many assurances as needed to help make people feel better, the best thing we can do is show our local communities that we are here to stay and we plan on continuing our legacy of excellence.