September 1, 2010

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Friends and Family

Cache Valley Food Producers Thrive Together

Patrick Ritter

September 1, 2010

Gossner Foods and Lower Foods are two Cache Valley companies with a secret. They are successful, third- and fourth-generation manufacturers of dairy products and specialized meats, respectively—but that’s not the secret.

Gossner Foods has been making quality Swiss, Cheddar, Monterey Jack and two dozen other cheeses since 1966. But the real beginning started in 1941 when Edwin Gossner moved to Cache Valley to make Swiss cheese the old-fashioned way with new-fangled ideas. Those new-fangled ideas created not only the variety of cheeses and dairy products Gossner Foods offers, but also established the UHT (Ultra High Temperature) milk market, providing Grade “A” milk that doesn’t require refrigeration to remain fresh.

This innovation delivers tasty, high-quality milk to people traditionally unable to store milk. Children and adults all over the world drink nutritious milk in a dozen flavors anytime, anywhere. UHT milk also helps natural disaster victims and gives U.S. military personnel a taste of home in faraway places.

Lower Foods started in the 1920s as a family-owned custom meat cutting and sausage manufacturing enterprise. Four generations later, the Lower family operates the finest custom meat processing plant in the western United States. Sumptuous goodies like corned beef, pastrami, spicy shredded chicken and a host of others issue forth from Lower’s state-of-the-art facility in Richmond, Utah.

To locals, neither company is much of a secret. Gossner Foods works with dairy farmers all over Utah to fill their requirements for high-quality milk. Lower Foods buys from local meat providers, obtaining the highest-quality cuts of beef, pork and poultry for its array of products. Despite the tough economy, Lower Foods is adding to its plant, increasing capacity and expanding product lines further.

Each company has received numerous awards and accolades for products, methods and new innovations. So what’s the secret?

“I drive by eight of our dairy farmers every evening when I go home,” says Dolores Gossner Wheeler, CEO of Gossner Foods. “Heck, we’ve got another dozen or more farms within a two mile radius of my front porch. These are my friends and neighbors first.”

Wheeler’s attitude is reflected by Alan Lower, president of Lower Foods. “We’ve been approached by the big guys,” Lower says, “But we’re not selling. They can’t do this the way we do, and it isn’t as important to them as it is to me and my family.” Lower’s sons, daughters, sister, nieces and nephews all work and take great care with their company’s business.

Both leaders see their families, employees and suppliers as a larger community benefiting far beyond the day-to-day reality of their respective businesses. “We bring milk from farms as far away as Delta, Utah,” Wheeler says. “Family farms, not faceless corporations. They look to us to help them not just survive, but to grow. Over the years, we’ve watched our suppliers provide the means for their families to live, work and thrive right here in Utah.”

Co-marketing, joint shipping and complimentary products packaging aren’t just shared corporate buzz words, they’re a philosophical perspective. Both companies have discovered ways to join forces, gain market share and grow distribution networks cooperatively. What brought them together wasn’t simply the drive to make a profit. Lower’s grandparents were the Gossner’s neighbors. That’s the secret: They understand how family history intertwines with their economic future.

Gossner Foods and Lower Foods are guided by family and community values. These families know they can rely on each other to achieve mutual goals while supporting others and their community … as they have for generations.


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