“We use our founder’s 20-year supply commitment of high-quality milk to manufacture value add, premium milk powders.”
Having close to three decades of experience in the dairy and ingredient supplier industry, Patricia Smith, an ardent yoga practitioner thinks major challenges are not hindrances. But, rather a way to engage in executing plans for success for which being grounded, patient & focus is utmost important. “Yoga is that foundation for me which lets me focus on the plan & enhance my productivity in building the organization I am leading,” says Patricia, the President & CEO of Valley Milk. These qualities have allowed her to focus on building an organization by defining the desired staff matrix, and then finding, nurturing, and retaining the right people. Valley Milk recently completed construction on their state-of-the-art, milk powder processing facility in Turlock, CA, supplied by 16 dairy farms, which form full vertical integration from dairy to powder.
Valley Milk founders’ dairies are fully integrated into the processing facility. “We use our founder’s 20-year supply commitment of high-quality milk to manufacture value add, premium milk powders. Our facility is state of the art and our milk supply is controlled, and fully traceable back to the dairy level,” states Patricia. Valley Milk’s founders comprised of five California families and nutritionists, veterinarians. The families own and operate 16 dairies. Being incorporated by dairymen, dairywomen, nutritionists, and veterinarians it ensures animal health, animal welfare and overall wellbeing is a topmost and vital priority for Valley Milk. In addition to having direct integration from the farm to their plant, Valley Milk utilizes third-party certification to further confirm effectiveness and compliance. This is performed through the National Dairy FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Program. “The program partners with our industry to ensure our dairies are producing safe, wholesome milk while adhering to the highest standards of workforce development and environmental compliance,” adds Patricia.
Valley Milk started building their “brand” and “name” in the industry prior to commercialization and followed a defined strategic plan to further build and make their brand known in the industry. As a new organization, Valley Milk had one chance to get it right the first time so they had to make sure they were ready to come to the market place with high-quality ingredients and provide the greatest customer service through consistency, timeliness, and effective communication. Some of the key differentiators for Valley Milk are their ability to provide fresh milk processed into powder within 24 hours of cows being milked, and the milk is transported from the individual dairies and processed into a powder. The owners are from multigenerational families, with, diverse experience, and are highly successful.
A Company Here to Stay for Generations to Come
Valley Milk’s milk supply is critical and unique based on the founding dairies supplying 100% of the plant’s requirements. With the founders being vertically integrated into the processing facility with their quality milk, they have long term commitment to the longevity and success of the organization. The company’s plant is a state-of-the-art processing facility for milk powders. The design takes into account having the utilities place outside of direct process areas to eliminate cross-contamination, and having programs for self-sustaining water consumption which are pioneering factors. “Performing cold separation, having an indirect heat spray dryer tower, multistage dryer with integrated static fluid bed and the ability to agglomerate, instantize, and vitamin fortify inline are key differentiators. Our automation and controls integration throughout plant Milk Quality Freshness, Consistent Composition, Product Traceability, are worth mentioning,” says Patricia.
Valley Milk certifies that before the milk is received into their facility it undergoes antibiotic testing. Prior to receiving, all milk must test negative and be deemed antibiotic-free by California State standards using the Charm SL3 Beta-Lactum testing method. Valley Milk makes guarantees that the milk supplied to their facility does not come from cows injected with recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rBST).
Culminating into a Future Leader
Valley Milk has been commercial for 16 months, and their next strategic direction is evaluating and implementing opportunities to increase profitability. This includes strategic initiatives for selling into target premium markets for powder, such as Asia. Another example is evaluating how to maximize profit on their fat, whether it be further processing into butter, AMF, cream cheese, or other products while still having the ability to sell cream during profitable times of the year. We need to have the ability to be flexible with our capabilities so we are able to maximize our sales opportunities. “Diversification brings more flexibility and offerings to customers, it is through our proven capabilities, we are able to be agile and nimble to customers’ needs” adds Patricia.
As a committed leader, she will continue to maintain her focus on defining the vision for the future, people requirements, strategic planning, and successful execution of the business plan, including adaptations to ensure Valley Milk delivers world-class quality products. These are the qualities that have allowed Patricia to focus on building an organization by defining the desired staff matrix, and then finding, nurturing, and retaining the right people—focusing on soft skills, technical skills, and attitude. “As a new organization, we were given the opportunity to set the culture of the organization from the onset and build upon and refine the culture as our business matures. We will continue to mature to take the company to new heights,” adds Patricia.