As president of M&B Products, Dale McClellan is in the business of quenching thirsts in a state that invented Gatorade and the mass market branding of orange juice.
Dale has succeeded with his Florida-based beverage company by listening to customers and solving their problems. He also accredits a trusted financial partner for M&B Products' success.
“I’m exceedingly thankful there is an organization like Farm Credit that understands farmers and contributes to their success,” Dale said. “Farm Credit understands our desire to keep agriculture as a viable industry and provides the support our family business needs to remain competitive and relevant.”
A few years ago, Dale and his staff began hearing that schools were having trouble getting fresh yogurt. It sounded like a potential business opportunity for a company that produces milk, orange juice and water, mostly for Florida’s schools, hospitals, prisons and other institutional customers. From Tallahassee to Miami, schoolchildren recognize M&B’s products, notably Buffy’s Cool Cow milk.
The problem was spoilage. Schools were buying yogurt from a supplier that delivered product from a northern facility. The yogurt often had a short shelf life. At times, the product was out of date before it could be served. Dale and his team set about finding a solution.
Freezing was an option, but thawed yogurt can separate and lose its texture. M&B worked with International Foods to identify a suitable stabilizer, making it possible to freeze yogurt, extend shelf life and maintain the desired consistency when thawed. The process required no preservatives.
To produce its own yogurt, M&B bought and installed new stainless steel machinery, obtained the necessary governmental approvals and asked their customers what flavors they wanted. To comply with regulations requiring Grade A products to carry an expiration date, M&B acquired a machine to apply foil lids with printed expiration dates on plastic yogurt containers. The expansion has resulted in the successful roll-out of Buffy’s Cool Cow American Yogurt, which comes in vanilla, strawberry and peach.
“Farm Credit has been an incredible asset to M&B Products,” Dale said. “From the financial flexibility to the personal relationships developed, the service is always impeccable. Our loan officer has stuck with us through thick and thin. He completely understands the cycles of our business and industry.”