Page 3 - Daviscope - Spring 2015
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Davisco Positioned for New Opportunities (continued from previous page)
larger company now enables that ability without leveraging the entire balance sheet. It’s a fact of business that larger compa- nies can absorb short-term financial issues much more seam- lessly than smaller companies,” says Davis.
Wise, But Tough Choice
The decision to sell was not easy or taken lightly, says Davis, who admits he feels remorseful over selling the family’s busi- ness; emotions also shared by his father and grandpa, and his siblings. “It’s all I’ve ever known. Until August 1st, I hadn’t lived a day where I didn’t directly or indirectly own Davisco, and that feeling goes for the rest of the family as well, it was a very emotional time for all,” he says about making the deci- sion to sell the company. “A lot of employees haven’t worked for anyone else and we have milk producers who have never shipped to anyone else. Those are emotional things, but I think you have to try to separate that from making good business de- cisions, and even though I believe we accomplished that, there
have been many days where the emotion of wishing we had just continued on weighs heavily on you.”
“The last thing you want to do is let the business erode just be- cause you want your name on the door and Dad and I had many conversations about that last summer, winter and spring,” says Davis. “My grandpa asked me, ‘Is it a good business decision? You know your business as well as anyone.’ I told him, ‘Yes, Grandpa, it was, and I went through it with him.’ And he said, ‘Good, don’t look back.”
The people involved in the Davis family’s dairy foods-related business have seen much change in the past and more chang- es are coming, new owner or not. “What we’re going to do (in the future) is to do what’s best. One thing I’ve always said is: “We’re not going to change for change’s sake. We’re only going to do something if it makes sense,” Davis says. “At the end of the day, everyone wants what is best for the company. We want what we have all built to continue to succeed, that’s the priority,” he says. n
Dairy Plant Renovation Project
Phase II: Encourage Enrollment
Davis Dairy Plant in Brookings, SD
Imagine you are a high school agricul- ture teacher in a department with 500 students, you teach classes varying from floral design to ag mechanics and you are offered a ready-to-teach curriculum for a dairy processing class. It comes with hands-on labs, Powerpoint les- sons, tests and answer keys. You teach in Idaho’s Magic Valley, a region with job and career opportunities in the dairy foods processing industry. You’d jump at the chance to use this material in your classroom, and that’s exactly what Ni- cole Lebsack, agriculture teacher at the Jerome, Idaho High School did last fall.
“It basically has all of the things I need to teach dairy foods manufacturing without me having a background in it,” says Leb- sack. Class materials were put together by Sheri Kahnke, Lake Norden Cheese Quality Assurance Manager when she was working at SDSU and she has up- dated it and distributed the packet to ag education teachers for classroom use. “I will do continuing education workshops to present material to high school educa- tors this coming summer,” Kahnke says. “Teachers are hungry for it.”
Getting dairy processing curriculum into high schools where Davisco and other Jackrabbit Dairy Council Members have Operations is part of a larger effort to attract students to attend South Dakota State University (SDSU), Davisco led the dairy plant renovation project on campus in 2010. To tell the story of in-
creasing the enrollment numbers in the Dairy Science Program, Mark Spence, Midwest Division Manager for Davisco Foods, along with others in the industry, are making these efforts:
1. Travel to high school classrooms or career fairs to tell students and teachers about the opportunities for education leading to careers in dairy processing. “We talk to middle schoolers or early high school students about opportunities in our industry and how it offers a wide variety of career ‘cones’, meaning work in Dairy Plant Management, whether in Production, Quality Assurance or Quality Control, for example,” says Spence. The students can consider attending SDSU where the program is tailor-made for our industry, coupled with a state of the art dairy plant for “hands on” training and the placement rate after earning a degree is 100 percent!
2. Work with Dr. Vikram Mistry, Professor and Head of the SDSU Dairy Science Department, and others in the dairy industry to secure scholarships and to attract students into the dairy program, now at 95 students. The current level of scholarships available is at $108,000, up from $49,000 in 2005. “We do have lots to offer and once students come, they fully dive into the program and are very successful,” says Mistry.
3. Putting into place a 2 + 2 articulation program, so students who attend a two-year college, such as the College of Southern Idaho (CSI), can transfer their college credits to SDSU and get a four-year degree for a more advanced career in dairy foods.
4. Aid CSI in finding the resources to train people in food processing and automation. A program was launched in fall of 2014 after CSI received a federal grant to acquire equipment and hire instructors to teach the curriculum, says Terry Patterson, Instructional Dean at CSI. “Some of the training pieces can also be delivered to the students at the workplace,” he says. “We hope to create pathways from high school to attract young people that might want to pursue these careers. They can intern at plants in summertime, finish their degree at CSI and then transfer onto a 4-year college. We want to spread the word that there are viable pathways through CSI to be successful in the workplace.”
“We are fortunate to have the leadership and support in our Company, that af- fords us the time and resources to reach out to so many young people,” Spence says, “It’s a Win/Win proposition for In- dustry and Academia, but more impor- tantly, it’s a great head start to a career in the Dairy Industry for the students! n
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