Market and Banking Advice Aid Dairy Expansion into Agri-Tourism Destination
It is rare to see a young family in Georgia make a business out of a small dairy farm. The around-the-clock work and competition from big corporate dairies has stopped many who desire such a lifestyle dead in their tracks.
Not so for fourth-generation dairy farmer Scott Glover and his wife, Jennifer, who have built their award-winning Glo-Crest Dairy into the successful Mountain Fresh Creamery in Clermont, Georgia. In fact, they have expanded the creamery into a 100-acre agri-business and tourist destination.
“We really admire the skills and spunk that these two bring to the table,” says UGA SBDC Area Director Ron Simmons. “And their creamery products are delicious. They’re finding great acceptance for their quality.”
The dairy’s happy Holstein cows produce cream line milk that has won Glo-Crest Dairy the state’s annual Cream of the Crop award every year since 2004. They have also been recognized by the Southeast Milk Co-op as producing the highest-quality milk in the Southeast for the last two years.
Simmons met the Glovers in December 2013. They were referred to the SBDC by Small Business Access Partners in Gainesville, a Certified Development Company that works with banks who provide SBA 504 loans and other economic development financing.
The Glovers had decided to expand their pastureland, increase their herd to 250 cows and build a state-of-the-art dairy facility.
“We sell all natural, non-homogenized dairy products that contain no hormones or antibiotics. And our low-heat pasteurizing process preserves all the taste, flavor and nutrients that milk has to offer,” says Jennifer, who works during the day as an assistant principal in a nearby elementary school.
“When you sell to a co-op, your milk is mixed in with other milk from other farms at the bottling plant. We wanted to be able to bottle and sell our high-quality milk ourselves,” she says.
They wanted the expansion to include a tourist experience targeted at k-12 students. To make this vision a reality, they needed some small business guidance.
“They required help putting together the financials, going over their business plan, reviewing their marketing plan and web site, and they needed all of this work completed before the end of 2013,” says Simmons.
Simmons coached the clients through the process. With Savannah SBDC Area Director Kyle Hensel, we did a web site analysis and a competitive comparison with other similar businesses. SBDC consultant Randy Donaldson conducted the financial analysis.
“We are educators and dairy farmers. We didn’t have a lot of background in business,” admits Jennifer. “Ron made the business process very easy to understand. The SBDC staff helped provide us knowledge on loans and how to get the best bang for our buck. They showed us how many students were in schools within a 60-mile radius and how to make our idea more marketable. It was all very helpful information to provide to the bank.”
The Glovers successfully obtained capital for the purchase of land, cows and equipment, including an SBA 504 loan that closed in early 2014.
“We are milking there now, and our visitor center opens in April,” says Jennifer. “Our visitors will be able to follow our product from start to finish, from cow to jug.”
“We expect Jennifer and Scott to successfully live their dream,” says Simmons. “Scott is highly experienced in the dairy business and Jennifer understands their market intimately because she lives it every day as an educator. They’re both professionals.”