The phrase “Phoenix rising from the ashes” has become something of a cliché, but in the case of Clover Stornetta Farms, it’s true.
Well, maybe a cow rising from the ashes.
Based in Petaluma, Calif., about an hour north of San Francisco, Clover Stornetta Farms is a locally owned and operated dairy processor that works closely with its family farmers to bring consumers the best possible quality dairy products. Those products – including a full line of fluid, cultured and frozen dairy foods – are available in California, Arizona and Nevada.
The company was founded in 1977. Its predecessor, the Petaluma Co-Op (with the Clover brand), operated in Petaluma from 1913 until a fire in 1975 destroyed its processing and bottling operation. Two years later, following a decision by the co-op not to rebuild the facility, Gene Benedetti founded Clover Stornetta through the acquisition of the co-op’s wholesale distribution business and Stornetta’s Dairy in Sonoma. The deal brought together the Clover and Stornetta brands, both longtime Bay Area mainstays.
Operating out of the Petaluma location since 1984, Clover Stornetta processes all of its fluid milk products – both conventional and organic – at this lone headquarters plant. All other Clover-branded products are processed through co-packers with the company’s formulas and under its guidance.
In June 1991, Clover Stornetta opened a new state-of-the-art milk processing facility in Petaluma. With this new fully automated plant with computerized controls, Clover is able to do three times the volume of the old Sonoma bottling plant with virtually the same manpower.
The 16 family farms that comprise the Clover family take tremendous pride in their operations, according to chairman Dan Benedetti. “We developed and implemented the North Coast Excellence Certified Program in 1994 to insure the commitment of our company to humane animal husbandry,” he says. “The program ensures that we follow sustainable agricultural practices and do not use rBST.”
All of its milk comes from Sonoma, Mendocino and Marin counties, and Clover requires that its producers maintain a 90% rating on statewide score cards.
In September 2000, Clover became the first dairy in the United States to be awarded the Free Farmed label from the American Humane Association for humanely produced dairy products. Consumers are increasingly concerned about how animals are treated, Benedetti says.
Symbolizing the company’s contented cows is its marketing mascot of the past four decades, Clo the Cow. This North Bay icon has become an apt “spokescow” for the company, reflecting Clover Stornetta’s philosophy from billboards and trucks. Slogans like “Outstanding in her Field” and “Tip Clo through your two lips” offer a lighthearted approach to Clover’s serious mission: to produce the cleanest milk in the industry.
Furthering that end, Clover Stornetta recently announced its latest green achievement: converting its fleet maintenance operation to solar power. The company reports its 32-kilowatt system produces enough electricity to power six households.
Gene Benedetti, Clover Stornetta’s founder, died in January 2006 at age 86. But his ideals live on through his descendents who continue operating the family-owned company.
As Clover Stornetta proclaims on its Web site: “We have worked hard over the years to address issues that are important to you, like where does Clover milk really come from, how are the animals being treated that produce Clover milk, what is being done to sustain the land and which milk is best for you and your family.”
At a GlanceClover Stornetta Farms Inc.
Headquarters: Petaluma, Calif.
Products: Conventional milk, cream, cheese, ice cream, butter and cultured products; organic milk, cream and soymilk.
Brands: Clover Stornetta, Clover Organic
Revenue: $85 million
Management team: Kevin Imm, CEO; Marcus Benedetti, president; Dan Benedetti, chairman; Gary Imm, vice chairman; Gene “Herm” Benedetti, VP R&D; Mike Keefer, VP sales; Mkulima Britt, VP finance.
Web site: www.cloverstornetta.com