A1 A1
Business
The milkman cometh: Nostalgia, modern-day convenience merge with new service
  • Updated

He’s too young to wax nostalgic over a delivery from the milkman back in his childhood.

But Tyler Sundin believes he’s definitely old enough to see a good business opportunity when it comes along.

That’s why the 24-year-old Litchfield High School graduate made the decision earlier this year to step into the role of milkman for Dairy2U, a company based in St. Cloud that is building its reputation on fresh local products and home-delivered convenience. And he’s working on bringing the concept to Litchfield residents now.

“I was looking through ads online, and I found Dairy2U, and I just thought, ‘This is cool!’” Sundin said. “I just thought it was an interesting opportunity, bringing products from local farms right to people’s front door.”

The company was founded in 2019 when Brad Hagfors bought out the St. Cloud area’s last traditional milkman. Hagfors said he saw the growing online shopping trend and envisioned a business that could deliver fresh-from-the-farm products from a local dairy directly to the customer’s door. A blending of old traditions with and technology in a cold glass of milk, if you will.

“People are buying online, shopping online and having things delivered to their home,” Hagfors said. “I talked to a lot of people, and people are really excited about this. And I think it’s the future.”

Dairy2U started in the St. Cloud area and quickly expanded its dairy delivery service to communities within a 20-mile radius of St. Cloud, then down the I-94 corridor to the northwest suburbs of the Twin Cities.

While the delivery business started as with milk from Stony Dairy in Melrose, the options have grown to include other staples, such as eggs, butter and bread, and now even cheeses, beef and pork, coffee and ice cream.

All of the food offerings come from regional companies, a company spokesman said. In addition to Stony Creek Dairy, Dairy2U has partnered with Backwards Bread Company in St. Cloud, Redhead Creamery in Brooten and Jupiter Moon Ice Cream in St. Joseph among others.

And with local products, Hagfors said, the focus has been on healthy and fresh. The milk from Stony Creek is hormone-free, low-temperature pasteurized from grass-fed cows. Eggs come from cage-free chickens. Cheese from Redhead Creamery is made with milk from a farm next door that pipes its milk underground to the milk house for processing, guaranteeing freshness.

“It’s been made clear to us that busy, health-conscious people and families want essential items free of preservatives delivered to them, when they want it,” Hagfors said. “The fact that our customers know they’re helping support the farmers and small business owners who produce these tantalizing products is just an added bonus.”

Sundin was working in an automotive parts distribution center in St. Cloud when he ran across the help wanted ad from Dairy2U. The more he looked into the company, the more he liked what he saw.

Doorstep delivery of products from local companies seemed like a business model that would work, Sundin said, especially in the COVID-19 pandemic era. But he believes it can go on, and even grow, after the pandemic is over, because people like the convenience.

Sundin was hired to run a route two days a week on Cooper Avenue in St. Cloud. The Tuesday-Thursday route is far from full-time, so at this point he’s still working his job at the parts center, as well. But he’s hoping to see his Dairy2U responsibilities grow.

In fact, they recently did, when Dairy2U added a Litchfield route and also announced plans to add routes in Darwin and Dassel. Long-term, the company also hopes to expand its delivery service to Hutchinson, according to Tim Osmundson a Dairy2U spokesman.

“I’m looking to turn it into a long-term career,” Sundin said. “I don’t think in the beginning they had Litchfield in mind, but when I mentioned I was from Litchfield, that became a possibility, I guess.”

He’s aware that it takes some time to build a customer base that will support a full-time driver, but Sundin says he thinks it is just a matter of people becoming familiar with the Dairy2U name. He trying to do his part by promoting the service on social media channels.

Though he admits he’s biased, he says he has a good product to sell.

“I love the milk,” he said. “There is definitely a difference. The thing is that the milk at Stony Creek is bottled right there at the farm. It doesn’t go and sit at a grocery store. There’s hardly any travel time, and we can have it at your door. They’re getting super duper fresh milk.”

Dairy2U’s marketing plan relies heavily on milkman nostalgia, with advertisements having a retro 1950s look of a smiling milkman in cap and white smock delivering dairy products.

But the approach is more modern, with customers placing orders and making payment online at dairy2u.com. Deliveries are made weekly. Sundin currently does his Litchfield route, which started with three households, on Saturdays.

Most customers set a cooler outside their door into which the products are placed, with no face-to-face interaction needed. But Sundin has found that, for many, the milkman experience is about interaction.

“It’s a very, very social job,” Sundin said. “You really can’t do this without having some social interaction, you know. They’re happy to get their milk and other things. And people just like to say ‘hi’ and talk a little when it arrives. It’s part of helping to build the brand.”


Education
No masking school board conflict
  • Updated

A simmering conflict between Litchfield School Board members – one former and one current – flared up again during the board’s meeting Feb 22, with each demanding an apology from the other.

When Dave Huhner, who left the board when his term ended last year, spoke during the open comment period at the beginning of the meeting, he accused the “most COVID-concerned School Board member” of not following district and state guidelines when it comes to attendance at sporting events.

Though he didn’t mention the board member by name during his monologue, it was quickly obvious that Huhner was referring to Greg Mathews. The two have sparred over COVID-19 guidelines almost since the pandemic began, with Mathews choosing to “follow the science” and Huhner opposing mask mandates, school closures and other guidelines from health care agencies, as well as executive orders from Gov. Tim Walz.

Mathews, Huhner said, recently attended a basketball game at Litchfield High School. He did this despite district communication to parents that they were limited to two tickets per athlete and that total game attendance was limited to 150 people, in accordance with state guidelines.

“Imagine how livid people were when grandparents were not allowed” at the game, but a board member with no connection to any of the players attended, Huhner said.

Regardless of the reason the board member was there, Huhner said, “that board member had no business there, no reason to be,” implying that Mathews’ attendance denied family members of players — including his son’s grandmother — an opportunity to be at the game.

Huhner added that he thought it “extremely disrespectful” and that he was not the only parent in attendance at the game who thought so.

He said what he perceived as a double standard was “embarrassing for our school district.”

Upon concluding his statement, Huhner left the meeting, followed by Scott Marquardt, a parent who said he was there in support of Huhner’s comments.

As they left, Mathews asked for the opportunity to respond, and upon receiving approval from board Chairman Darrin Anderson, he read from a letter he said he received from Huhner, which recounted much of what Huhner had just said.

Mathews then explained that in recent weeks he has been at the high school while his granddaughter has been involved in a play and swimming lessons. On one of the nights he was there, waiting for swimming lessons to end, he noticed a basketball game going on in the gym and also saw LHS Activities Director Justin Brown sitting near the door.

“I did not want to take tickets away from anybody,” he said, so Mathews asked Brown if it would be OK, and the activities director approved. Mathews said he had a mask on and sat “at least 30 feet from the nearest spectators.”

He went on to say that attendance at the game – a “C squad” contest for ninth-graders — was sparsely attended, with far fewer than the permitted 150 people in attendance.

Mathews also asked Superintendent Beckie Simenson about the rules for ticket allotment for players’ families. She explained that a letter sent to parents asked ticket requests be limited to two per player, but that if more were needed, they could make an additional request and if not all tickets had been requested, the family could get more.

Mathews then asked if Simenson knew how many times Huhner had called to ask for additional tickets.

“I have the answer,” he said. “Not once.”

Additional tickets would have been available to Huhner had he requested them, Mathews said, but he did not ask for any more.

“If his mother was unable to go to these games (it was) not the fault of the school district,” Mathews said. “You talk about hypocrisy. As far as taking responsibility … it should be the other way around. Mr. Huhner owes an apology to the school district for implying the tickets were not available.”

School Board Chairman Darrin Anderson ended the discussion by saying he thought “the issue has been addressed. I, myself, would consider this issue resolved.”


Local
top story
Township Day March 9 is grassroots democracy in action
  • Updated

If you’re one of approximately 914,174 residents living in one of Minnesota’s 1,781 townships, your opportunity to be heard in local government is Tuesday, March 9, during Township Day.

This day marks annual meetings in which township residents meet to make their thoughts known on local issues, vote directly on annual tax levies and provide feedback to neighbors elected to make decisions at the local level regarding road work, fire protection, ditches and other concerns.

Some townships are holding elections for supervisor and treasurer positions, while others hold elections in November.

“Local government is alive and well at the grassroots level in townships,” said David Gary Burdorf of Green Isle Township in Sibley County, the Minnesota Association of Townships Board of Directors president. “Voters will choose new local officers, and dedicated election judges will carry out these COVID-safe elections.”

Following state guidance, masks are required at annual meetings this year, and social distancing of at least 6 feet will be observed.

To find your meeting time and location, see the list below.

Acton Township

Annual meeting: 3 p.m.

Elections: 4-8 p.m.

Supervisor election: three-year term

Treasurer election: two-year term

Location: Grove City Hall, 200 Atlantic Ave. W., Grove City

Cedar Mills Township

Annual meeting: 3 p.m.

Elections: Begins after meeting, ends at 5 p.m.

Supervisor election: three-year term

Treasurer election: two-year term

Location: Cedar Mills Gun Club, 62841 140th St., Hutchinson

Collinwood Township

Annual meeting: 8:15 p.m.

Elections: 5-8 p.m.

Supervisor election: three-year term

Treasurer election: two-year term

Location: Collinwood Township Hall, 21904 746th Ave., Dassel

Cosmos Township

Annual meeting: 7 p.m.

Location: Cosmos Fire Hall, 206 Gemini Ave. E., Cosmos

Elections in November.

Danielson Township

Annual meeting: 7 p.m.

Location: 51815 220th St., Atwater

Elections in November.

Darwin Township

Annual meeting: 7 p.m.

Location: Darwin Township Hall, 305 Curran St., Darwin

Elections in November.

Dassel Township

Annual meeting: 8:15 p.m.

Elections: 5-8 p.m.

Supervisor election: three-year term

Treasurer: two-year term

Location: Dassel History Center, 901 First St. N., Dassel

Ellsworth Township

Annual meeting: 8:15 p.m.

Elections: 5-8 p.m.

Supervisor election: three-year term

Treasurer election: two-year term

Location: Ellsworth Township Hall, 19258 State Highway 9, Darwin

Forest City Township

Annual meeting: 8:15 p.m.

Elections: 5-8 p.m.

Supervisor election: three-year term

Treasurer election: two-year term

Location: Forest City Threshers, 64917 309th St., Litchfield

Forest Prairie Township

Annual meeting: 8:15 p.m.

Elections: 5-8 p.m.

Supervisor election: three-year term

Treasurer election: two-year term

Location: Watkins City Hall, 110 Central Ave. S., Watkins

Greenleaf Township

Annual meeting: 8:10 p.m.

Elections: 5-8 p.m.

Supervisor election: three-year term

Treasurer election: two-year term

Location: Beckville Lutheran Church, 20521 600th Ave., Litchfield

Harvey Township

Annual meeting: 7 p.m.

Location: Lighthouse Church Assembly of God, 28164 State Highway 22 North, Litchfield

Elections in November.

Kingston Township

Annual meeting: 8:15 p.m.

Elections: 5-8 p.m.

Supervisor election: three-year term

Supervisor special election: one-year term

Treasurer election: two-year term

Location: Kingston Community Center 30840 722nd Ave., Dassel

Litchfield Township

Annual meeting: 8:15 p.m.

Election: 5-8 p.m.

Supervisor election: three-year term

Treasurer election: two-year term

Location: Meeker County Courthouse Community Room A, 325 North Sibley Ave., Litchfield

Manannah Township

Annual meeting: 8:15 p.m.

Election: 5-8 p.m. (the township hall will also be open 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, March 6)

Supervisor election: three-year term

Treasurer election: two-year term

Location: Manannah Township Hall, 57211 351st St., Grove City

Swede Grove Township

Annual meeting: 8 p.m.

Elections: 5-8 p.m.

Supervisor election: three-year term

Treasurer election: two-year term

Location: Swede Grove Town Hall, 29956 State Highway 4, Grove City

Union Grove Township

Annual meeting: 8:10 p.m.

Elections: 5-8 p.m.

Supervisor election: three-year term

Treasurer election: one-year term

Location: Union Grove Town Hall, 35975 515 Ave., Paynesville


Back