How Southern Swiss Dairy, LLC Began:
It is hard to pinpoint an exact date in which the Franks family wanted to expand there farming operation into one where there was some kind of product offered with added-value. The idea of making cheese crossed their minds, but seeing the difficulty in perfecting something which they had no knowledge, it seemed unreasonable. Years passed, and the economics of the dairy industry continued to be an extreme roller coaster for everyone involved. Late 2008-early 2009 was the turning point. With the severe drop in milk prices and the increased cost in feed and fuel, it was critical to make some decisions to keep from losing everything they had worked so hard for. Thoughts of selling the farm and cows would cross their minds, but knowingly so that would be an extreme overnight change for what they had done for the majority of their lives. To stay in the business that had the family had been in for over 20 years, they had to find some other way to turn a profit. Knowing that options were limited, the Franks looked to what other producers in similar situations and in the southeast had done. After visiting with several producers, the possibility of developing an on-farm bottling facility became more than just an idea. In the summer of 2009, they thought a bottling plant would be the best fit to make profits regularly, rather than wondering what the milk co-op would pay. In addition, the registered Brown Swiss herd that they had developed over the last quarter of a century would be the perfect quality for locally produced milk. In September the building would begin, followed by equipment installation. The plant was finished and the first batch of milk was processed on January 30, 2010. Though the business is still fairly young, it has helped to stabilize the votalilty of the ever-changing milk market. It has added a lot more book-keeping and has required more labor to successfullly operate, but it truly is a "labor of love".