Membership Has its Privileges
by James Dudlicek
Processors say Quality Chekd offers a wealth of resources to help them do business better.
For more than 60 years, Quality Chekd Dairies Inc. has offered dairy processors valuable assistance in marketing, education, training and quality testing. Using an independent testing laboratory, its Cow Tech training program and the familiar “Blue Q Red Chek” logo with consumer recognition nearing 90 percent, the association gives its membership of regional and independent processors some leverage in a highly competitive marketplace.
Dairy Field recently got a closer look at three member processors that the folks at Quality Chekd say are fine examples of the high standards the group strives for in marketing, food safety and overall high quality: Smith’s, Super Store Industries and Alquería.
Smith Dairy Products Co.
Orrville, Ohio
“It’s nice to be able to learn from and be challenged by a group of dairies scattered across the United States,” Steve Schmid, president of Smith Dairy Products Co., says of his company’s membership in Quality Chekd (QC), which dates back to 1947.
Smith’s uses QC’s purchasing services extensively, and has used its marketing services at times over the years. “We haven’t needed to have a huge purchasing department here because QC has done so much of it for us,” says Schmid, QC’s secretary/treasurer. “They negotiate with the many suppliers. That is very beneficial to us. Early on, when QC first got started, they provided a lot of marketing assistance — carton designs, advertising programs. We don’t use that service as much as we used to; we wanted our own carton design so we weren’t competing with someone down the street who had the same design.”
Steve Hines, vice president of finance, says being able to join forces with other dairies through QCS Purchasing has been a plus. “I think the billing process has worked very well for us — not that we enjoy bills,” Hines quips. “But when you have your billing process centralized, it helps to eliminate the number of vendors that we might have had if we had to go out on our own.”
In particular, Smith’s — which processes fluid milk, ice cream and cultured products — goes through QC for its ingredient needs. “They have standards higher than Grade A PMO standards,” notes Eddie Steiner, vice president of production.
Meanwhile, Schmid says QC is “coming on strong” with training programs. “We use one of their people for some training. They provide professional programs that help us develop the skills of our associates,” he says. “They also have some production counselors who audit our plants, provide assistance on specific problems and help us improve our operations.”
In its third generation of family ownership, Smith’s was founded by John and Peter Schmid (regular customers called them “the Smith brothers” because it was easier to say) in 1909. The company maintains a milk plant, built in 1924, on North Vine Street in downtown Orrville — not far from the town’s other claim to fame, jam-giant Smucker’s — kitty-corner from its ice cream plant, opened in the mid-1980s. The 1994 acquisition of Wayne Dairy in Richmond, Ind., gave Smith’s its ultra-high-temperature processing plant; production from other acquisitions over the years has been absorbed by existing facilities, including the traditional ice cream business of Canton, Ohio’s Superior Dairy, acquired earlier this year.
Smith’s relocated its corporate offices in 1992 to Dairy Lane north of downtown, where the company also buit a refrigerated distribution center that was expanded this year. With space at a premium in downtown Orrville, Smith’s would like to eventually move all its Ohio manufacturing facilities to the Dairy Lane site. “That would be the next logical step, but an expensive one,” Schmid says, noting the company staked its first claim to the site with its fleet maintenance facility some 20 years ago. “That’s the ‘wish list.’ Specific plans aren’t ready for that.”
In the meantime, Smith’s does a brisk business manufacturing some 300 SKUs of its own fluid milk and frozen dessert products, including its Ruggles by Smith’s line of premium ice cream, the Moovers line of ultra-pasteurized single-serve milks and Smith’s-branded milk in yellow light-blocking plastic jugs.
The company, which reported sales of $120 million last year, also does contract packaging for major retailers and other customers.
“We try to differentiate ourselves with our yellow gallon jugs — our Super Jugs, as we call them — that protect the milk from light and have a foil cap for a little bit more protection,” Schmid says. “The label is a belly-band, so it lets us tell a bigger story on the product. We try to give consumers a product that’s a little better, and I truly believe it is. Someone once told me, ‘I hate your yellow jugs but I sure love the product inside.’” Someone else told me they love the consistently good flavor out of our yellow jugs compared with the product she used to buy. She said it was getting to the point where she didn’t want to drink milk.”
Smith’s uses the three-legged milking stool to illustrate its mission statement. The first leg represents its customers, without whom the company would not exist. The second leg stands for the company’s associates, who must be provided with a satisfying and rewarding work environment. The third leg represents the owners, who provide the capital needed to operate and manage the business profitably for future growth.
High-quality products and excellent customer service has been Smith’s formula for success for nearly a century, Schmid says. “Excellent distribution is very expensive,” he says. “But if you can fill the customers’ needs with great service, you create long-term customers.”
Good service includes the little things, like having a person pick up the phone when customers call rather than an automated system, Hines notes. “Through the years, we’ve constantly put money back into the company, to be the best in technology, service — anything we can provide to be more efficient and serve our customers,” he says. “We’ve been willing to put that money back into the company.”
Schmid adds: “You have to be continually improving.”
A significant part of that improvement will be fully on line this fall, when the expansion of the refrigerated distribution center is completed. A 25,000-square-foot expansion has nearly doubled the size of the existing 30,000-square-foot facility, from which Smith’s makes all its direct-sales deliveries.
Products manufactured on North Vine Street are transferred to the Dairy Lane site for sorting and shipment. A clamp truck grabs pallets of finished product off the transfer vehicles and sends them through a system of conveyors and racks to be sorted based on customer orders. Data for orders is tracked on handheld computers; a computer-controlled crane sorts product into the center’s three-tiered rack system.
Back at the plant, more than 20 trucks each day drop off loads of raw milk in the two receiving bays. Most of the milk comes from farms within a 50-mile radius in Wayne County, Ohio; Schmid notes that Wayne is Ohio’s top milk-producing county.
Milk that passes lab testing is offloaded into the raw tanks. Inside, the plant’s blow-molding operation creates both clear and yellow light-blocking jugs, which get a sticker or belly-band label before reaching the fillers. Six fluid fillers handle gallon and half-gallon containers, along with 5-gallon bags and gabletop cartons for school milk.
The plant also makes ice cream mix, sour cream and cottage cheese. Mix is sent over to the ice cream plant through pipes carries in a trough above the street.
Frozen lines include half-gallon scrounds and 3-gallon tubs for foodservice and dip shops. On the tub line, gravity-fed cartons are placed by hand on two fillers, which raise the cartons up into position and lower them as they fill.  Manually lidded, they’re sent down a conveyor to the hardener. Scrounds are lidded, get tamper-evident bands applied and are shrink-wrapped in bundles of four before going to the hardener for a stay at -25 to -35 degrees F (or -80 with the forced-air wind chill).
“Many times what we ran on the fillers depended on what truck was out here,” Schmid says of production in the days before the new distribution center, which provided sorely-needed space to stockpile finished product.
“This room would only hold a third of our biggest day’s production,” production manager Karl Kelbly says of the North Vine Street cooler, now used only to transfer loads to Dairy Lane. “We had to adjust our production schedule which caused a lot of changeovers and inefficiencies. Now, only a portion of our production will even hit a pallet anymore until it’s loaded.”
Steiner says new technologies have created challenges in the production process. “We were the prototypical family dairy of days gone by, running a little bit of everything. In some sense, we still are,” he says. “We take a lot of pride in quality. We want it to be the same Smith flavor profile every time.”
But Steiner sees a shift in the industry from offering products to managing a supply chain. “We’ve marveled at how technology allows you to do things faster and more efficiently, but as soon as you need something slightly different than the computer is set up for … it’s not like the good old days,” he says. “Everything has to be set up very specifically. As we tailor things to our customers, it ensures our future but narrows down the services we’re providing.”
To be sure, the future looks good at The Dairy in the Country. With QC’s assistance, Smith’s should continue to flourish.
“We need to make sure we are competitive, and have efficient equipment and well-trained, dedicated associates. Quality Chekd helps us do this,” Schmid says. “We’re always working to create a successful future. As customers demand more and competitors get tougher, we must continually improve.”
Super Store Industries
Turlock, Calif.
“The name ‘Quality Chekd’ is indicative of what we’re looking for in our products,” says Kelly Olds, vice president of operations, sales and marketing for Super Store Industries (SSI).
To that end, SSI has taken advantage of many of the services QC offers its members.
“Having that independent third party looking over our shoulder and monitoring our quality and assisting us when we have problems is something that has been a value to us,” Olds says. “Quality Chekd also offers some good training programs, and we have been a participant in the purchasing program for a number of years and find that to be of value to the organization.”
SSI’s ownership impacts its participation in QC’s marketing programs. “We’re a little different from the average Quality Chekd member in that we’re a captive, and we don’t participate in some of the marketing programs offered by QC,” Olds explains. “But that particular department has helped in the past with packaging design and nutritional labeling, and some of the packaging issues for which we didn’t have the internal exper­tise to handle.”
SSI was formed in 1991 as the result of a partnership between three major grocery chains in northern California: Save Mart, Raley’s and Bel Air. With corporate headquarters in Stockton, SSI’s manufacturing operations consist of the Turlock Dairy Division and Fairfield Dairy Division; and the Lathrop Dry Grocery/Frozen Division.
The dairy plants manufacture fluid milk, ice cream, cultured products, juices and drinks under private labels including Sunnyside Farms, Bay View Farms, Cowabunga and Denali. Four out of 10 cases of product made at the Turlock plant go to partner stores; SSI also performs contract packaging for numerous regional and national processors.
With some 440 SKUs produced in Turlock and up to 50 at the Fairfield facility, QC’s purchasing program has come in handy. “We utilize QC purchasing for some of our larger items — packaging, some of the commodity ingredients like orange juice concentrate and sweeteners, and in particular plastic resin for our blow-mold operation at our Fairfield plant,” Olds says. “Where we can combine our volume with those of other companies, that’s where we’ve had a lot of help.”
That help is particularly useful as SSI, which reported sales of $400 million last year, attracts more and more co-packing business to support the rest of the operations and reduce costs to its retail owners. “We’ve been able to focus on going out and getting additional business outside of what our partners have,” says Stefan Edh, Turlock Dairy Division controller. “Our partners are regional grocery chains, and their growth is going to be through new stores, which is coming through new population in the Central Valley. That helps quite a bit, but we’re trying to get as many customers as we can that make sense for our operation. The small bottle line we opened up four years ago gives us new opportunities in a growth area. We’re seeing a ton of single-serve business out there and we want to be part of it. All these things will lower our overhead which essentially lowers the costs to our partners.”
About two hours east of the San Francisco Bay area, the 200,000-square-foot Turlock plant was built in 1988 as an ice cream and cultured facility; the juice operation was added in 1994. Total tank capacity is 443,900 gallons.
As many as 10 truckloads of milk, cream and condensed arrive at the Turlock plant daily, along with 17 loads of orange juice every week. It’s one of the few dairies in the area with a totally enclosed receiving bay (many California dairies sport open-air offloading areas) that can unload two trucks simultaneously.
All the milk comes from Dairy Farmers of America members and other farms within a 90-mile radius. Once it passes labs, it’s pumped into one of two 60,000-gallon raw silos. The plant also features two 20,000-gallon whey silos and a 20,000-gallon water storage tank for treated water. Used for blending juice and soy products, water is treated at an on-site plant after being pulled from the local city well system. Treated water is pulled through several filters and a chiller before use.
“I think probably the biggest thing we’ve done is in our cultured operation, putting in three new fillers in the last two years,” says David Trenkenschuh, Turlock operations man­ager. “We used to use the plug-style lid on our yogurt with the tamper band, and by putting in these new fillers we increased our efficiencies and productivity. We were able to go to a top-seal type of cup that our consumers really preferred over the tamper band.”
The plant’s three cultured filling lines handle 6- and 8-ounce cup yogurt, 6- to 24-ounce yogurt cartons and 24- to 32-ounce yogurt and cottage cheese. The small-bottle line handles products including drinkable yogurts and cultured soy drinks, plus a co-packed sports drink called Aloe Splash. Incoming bottles are labeled upstairs, then pass through a rotary washer on their way down to the filling lines.
“We’ve ordered additional processing equipment for our cultured department that will essentially double our production,” Olds says, noting it was expected to be installed later this fall.
Among fluid milk products packed here is the Sunnyside Farms brand, including the Cowabunga single-serve line. In ice cream, the plant does round and square half gallons, along with various-size pails.
“At one time, we had over 30 different vanilla ice creams that we made,” Olds explains, referring to the diverse product needs of SSI’s retail owners. “Different brands, different labels — many with unique formulas.”  In fact, SSI’s various ice creams, as well as its other products, have won recognition at QC annual meetings (SSI has won QC’s Weber Award 10 times in the last two decades and the Gingrich Award twice since 1993). Earlier this year, QC arranged for an ice cream short course to be conducted on site.
Turlock’s chilled juice operation packages 96- and 128-ounce plastic bottles and 64-ounce gabletop cartons. Supplied bottles are moved through a depalletizer that sweeps them into rows and onto a belt on their way to the fillers. A 30-valve rotary filler handles 125 jugs per minute; a gabletop filler does 140 cartons a minute.
All orange juice arrives at the plant pulp free, with pulp and calcium fortification added as needed for the various varieties. The plant also handles bulk and tote packaging of juices and drinks for its partners and co-pack clients.
“A couple years back, we did a complete overhaul of our chilled juice operation and installed ESL fillers — more efficient, higher-capacity fillers,” Trenkenschuh says. “We put in the accumulation units to allow us to keep fillers running full time.”
The plant fills juice four days a week for West Coast customers, with operations sometimes running up to six days for nationally distributed products. The plant is certified organic and is the sole co-packer for Whole Soy, the No. 1-selling soy smoothie in the United States.
Finished products are stacked on pallets and shrink-wrapped, stored pending delivery in 23,000 square feet of cooler space added in 2002, when a 14,000-square-foot dry warehouse also was added for ingredient and packaging storage. With a computer-managed inventory tracking system, the plant’s delivery area extends from Yreka near the Oregon border down to Bakersfield and Tehachapi, and also serves stores in Reno/Lake Tahoe area.
“We recently had a firm come in and do an engineering study to look at expanding our marketing capabilities via multipacks and different pack configurations,” Trenkenschuh says.
Other improvements are on the way. “We’re doing some other mechanization and upgrading within the plant,” Olds says. “Total capital expenditures this year are almost $3 million. Some of that is going to biosecurity. We’ve got a big push on maintaining security, limiting access, protecting food that’s being produced and shipped to the customer.”
Of course, with QC’s help, quality stays topnotch; the lab at Turlock conducts more than 3,400 tests each week on food products.
“We have a food safety manager on staff; he’s been with us a little over two years now,” Trenkenschuh says. “Quality Chekd has helped; we use them as a resource. We’re also going through all our existing labeling to make sure we’ll be compliant with the new regulations in regard to trans fat and allergens. We also took the opportunity to upgrade some of our art.”
Trenkenschuh says SSI took a HACCP approach toward food safety. “We did a risk analysis of entry points, exit points and all the different risks involved, all the way from package delivery, mail, visitors, contractors, outside drivers — analyzed all the risks involved with the points we have to protect,” he explains. “Once we identified all the different risk levels and risk areas, we set into motion plans to control those particular aspects of entry into the facility. Our first phase was all the exterior doors into the plant. The current phase this coming year is to restrict access within the plant, from area to area.”
Olds notes that a lot of this planning has been in cooperation with co-pack partners who have an interest because of the franchise value in their name. “They want to make sure they’re offering the safest product available and minimizing risk, so we’ve utilized their advice and expertise in assisting us in putting together our plans for food safety, along with Quality Chekd, IDFA and all the other resources available,” he says. “We’ve had two or three FDA audits of our HACCP programs, and have had positive results from all of them.”
Employee safety is top of mind as well; SSI’s Fairfield plant recently hit 500 days without a recordable accident. “We do this not with a policing-type approach but proactively,” says Tim McGarvey, vice president of human resources. “We have periodic operational reviews, and that’s always the very first thing Jay [Simon, SSI president and general manager] wants to know about. It truly is first in everybody’s mind. We stack our safety record against dairies all over the country. This is key from a financial standpoint, of course, but most of all it’s something that’s appreciated by the people because it’s their limbs and their health. We have an awful lot of pride in the work being done. A lot of training is one of the keys to that. The people really have a sense of ownership of the product. They know we made millions of things that end up on somebody’s table or somebody’s spoon, and that it needs to be right every time. It shows in the work force, the great camaraderie and great appreciation for the work they’re doing.”
Having some fun along the way doesn’t hurt either, as Olds explains. “At Fairfield, when the plant reached its 200-day goal, I had promised to kiss a pig, so I had to do that. When they hit 365, the operations manager promised to kiss the other end of the pig, and did. The 200-day goal for Turlock is ‘Shave Dave,’” he says, referring to mustachioed ops manager David Trenkenschuh. The company also participates in an annual truck rodeo that pits partner trucking companies against its own transport fleet in a challenge of driving skills. Banners heralding the winners hang from pallet racks in the warehouse.
Pride in work and fun doing it are part of the recipe for low turnover, which SSI folks estimate at about 2 percent. “Ours is so low, we don’t even measure it,” McGarvey remarks of Turlock’s workforce of 205 non-union employees. “We just don’t lose people. If you’re here six months, you’re here. That makes your training load so much easier, makes people work together so much better.”
Trenkenschuh offers: “We have a truck driver who is 71 years old, and this gentleman is probably more fit that anyone you’d care to meet. He’s like a rock. And when asked, ‘When are you going to retire?’ his response is, ‘It hasn’t even crossed my mind.’ It’s those types of people that make this company what it is.”
That dedication makes production challenges easier to handle. “We’re basically four different plants under one roof here,” Trenkenschuh says. “The coordination between the different operations requires effort to make everything happen on a daily basis, because of the diversity of the products that we do here.”
One of the biggest challenges more recently, he adds, is increased fuel prices that have taxes SSI’s ability to economically move products across the country. Controlling such costs will be important to future growth.
“We certainly have to continue to monitor our costs very closely and keep them in line,” Olds says. “We have to be able to attract and retain good quality employees. We have to monitor and continue to maintain the quality of our products. While we’re doing all of that, we have to keep our eye on opportunities to expand the business into different areas, different packaging, different products.”
Making that easier is the flexibility that SSI managers say makes their company unique in the industry.
“We can stop the company, turn it on a dime and go a different direction without calling headquarters, and I don’t mean we’re reckless at all,” McGarvey says, crediting the flexibility to skilled, cross-trained employees. “But we have a great situation where we’re really self-contained from a management standpoint. If it makes financial sense, we can do what needs to be done. It’s not writing up a 20-page proposal and defending it in five meetings. It’s a very nimble company.”
Olds agrees. “We’re not afraid to look at different product lines. This is first and foremost a dairy plant, but we committed the heresy of bringing soy into the plant,” he quips. “A big part of our plant is orange juice, for a major nationally branded company. We are in the food processing business, not just limited to dairy. If a project comes along that fits, we’re flexible enough to accept the challenge and make a good product.”
Alquería Dairy
Bogotá, Colombia
“The Quality Chekd management team has provided us with a very strong network of technology and processor contacts, not only in the United States but the world over,” says Carlos Cavelier, president of Alquería Dairy. “This gigantic synergy has allowed Alquería to move swiftly within the industry, solving problems in days rather than months and catching literally undreamt opportunities.”
Proof of Quality Chekd’s influence across the globe, Alquería has leveraged the association’s guidance to maintain high-tech dairy production in South America, resulting in quality products for Colombian consumers.
Alquería was founded in 1959 by Dr. Jorge Cavelier, a University of Chicago urologist dedicated to improving public health in Colombia, and his son Enrique, who drove the company under the concept of “a bottle of milk is a bottle of health.” It remains a family owned and operated company.
Offering a variety of ESL and UHT fluid milk products; pasteurized milk, cream and butter; juices; and a milk-based oatmeal beverage, Alquería projects revenues of $100 million in 2005 — up from $16 million upon joining QC in 1994. The company has a long history of firsts in the Colombian dairy industry, including paraffin coated milk cartons, plastic pouch packaging and plastic cartons; the monitoring of raw milk supply based on standard plate count; and shelf-stable milk pouches.
Alquería operates a modern ultra pasteurization plant, with the highest UHT capacity in the Andean region and fifth in Latin America, and has registered with the FDA to export its UHT oatmeal beverage to the United States. The company’s new logo snared a coveted Achieving Excellence marketing award from the International Dairy Foods Association in 2002.
On its own, Alquería has made great achievements, but QC has helped it go even further. “Quality Chekd has had an enormous impact in Alquería over the past decade,” says Cavelier, grandson of the founder and third-generation chief executive. “It has not only advised us in the setting up of good manufacturing practices and HACCP, but also in improving the quality of our raw milk supply. Quality Chekd has moved confidence among Alquería associates to sky-high levels and made them aware as a strong cultural factor within the company that we can live and work in a developing country and act like a company in an industrialized nation.”
The UHT plant opened in 1995 at more than 92,000 square feet; since then, the facility has expanded to more than 342,000 square feet. With shifts working around the clock, processing capacity has grown from nearly 16 million gallons to more than 58 million gallons, of which 95 percent is for UHT products.
Alquería gathers its milk from farms and cooperatives mostly in the center and southern parts of Colombia, collecting more than 92,000 gallons per day.
Most of the latest important changes occurred after 1995, when the production plant had a technological renovation, changing from a traditional pasteurization plant into a state-of-the-art facility with the most modern technology for processing UHT products.
Processing capacity is maintained with three indirect processors, two direct processors, three aseptic tanks, 11 aseptic pouch fillers, three aseptic carton fillers, two aseptic dozers and one automatic standardizing machine. 
Several innovative processes have improved manufacturing efficiencies. Incorporation of UHT technology has upgraded the storage, distribution and commercialization lines, and also the product, because no refrigeration is needed. Aseptic in-line dosage became necessary with the development of new products, to implement high-technology supplementary equipment to guarantee productivity, efficiency and quality. Finally, direct equipment and aseptic tank management is oriented to safely guarantee product qualities like color and flavor.
The company has an investment plan for the technical area of about 5 percent of the sales of last year, with the objective of supporting the already increasing sales and the new coming developments.
As would be expected of QC members, safety is a priority across the board for Alquería. The company has developed and implemented a HACCP plan. Included are a training program, clean-up plan, verification and follow-up of hygiene practices, preventive maintenance and measurement management programs, identification and follow-up of raw material and products, storage program for raw materials and products, quality assurance program, sampling plan, machines validation program and a cross-contamination and allergenic management program.
“In 2001, we feel Alquería received one of the most important quality certification of the world: the Quality Chekd seal,” Cavelier says. “We proceeded then to implement a sampling program with a laboratory in Colombia that is endorsed by Quality Chekd.”
In October 2003, the INVIMA (Colombian FDA) certified Alquería’s UHT line in the HACCP system. The following November, IQNet and ICONTEC certified the company on ISO 9001:2000.
Employee safety is a priority as well; Alquería’s strategic objective is to become OSHA certified. “It is a tool that makes risk management a more agile task,” Cavelier says. Alqueria is compliant with the technical advisory of ARP Liberty Insurance (Professional Risk Administration) and occupational health divulgation groups. The company also hired a nurse who monitors the employees’ health status and leads the personal protection elements program in the production plant.
Further, Alquería has established an auditing program that includes quality management system efficiency verifications every two months, plant visits by management to monitor GMPs, external audits and plant auditing on behalf of Quality Chekd.
“Alquería has structured a very competent department of milk purchasing, with the objective of giving the farmer technical support in the production and continuous improvement of the milk quality,” Cavelier says. “This same area is in charge of permanently monitoring every supplier and establishing and improving payment systems based on the hygienic, compositional and sanitary quality of the milk.”
The company has special channels for retail sales and supermarkets in Bogotá and the rest of the country. It also has warehousing facilities in strategic places, as well as a fleet of specially designed trucks and vans that allows storage and preservation of products in prime condition.
Immediate challenges facing Alquería are obtaining FDA certification for the exportation of its line of oatmeal drinks, obtaining the HACCP Quality Chekd certification and responding effectively to changing market conditions in Colombia.
“Because of all of these new processes and changes, the company’s main efforts have been directed to the training of work teams in the production plant, so we can improve our competence levels,” Cavelier says. “Furthermore, the adjustment of all our infrastructure is another important goal, not only through acquiring new equipments but also by supplying answers to different needs manifested by our employees.”
Alquería has 611 direct employees, 583 temporal employees and 768 contractors, totaling 1,962 associates as of June 2005.
The company has a “unique, highly motivated family management structure,” Cavelier says. “We run by TEP — Todo Es Possible, Everything is Possible.  Every associate receives the same treatment that a family member does. We strive to be a meritocracy, understanding the role we play in developing our associates and their families as persons will have a great impact on the next generation of Colombians.”
Cavelier says this motivation helped Alquería grow by 24 percent organically, growth that  became 41 percent with the purchase of Andina, a medium-size dairy in Cali, the second-largest city in Colombia, 300 miles southwest of Bogotá. “We also consolidated market leadership in Colombia, reaching a market share of 60 percent in Cundinamarca and 35 percent in the rest of the country,” he says. “The company continues to present highly dynamic levels in terms of product launches, entering new categories that had not been developed, such as ‘thirst quenchers’ and milk/fruit-based beverages.”
Last year, Alquería implemented a company strategy based on the Harvard Business School ORVA methodology (objectives, resources, advantages and scope), which Cavelier says enables the company to have clear objectives in the short and medium terms. “The entire company participated, and the result was an ORVA declaration that compiles objectives and expectations of all the areas,” he says. “Once corporative ORVA was defined, a communication process within Alquería took place, to generate the organizational alignment that will take us to the accomplishment of all our goals.”
In addition, Cavelier expresses Alquería’s commitment to understanding its consumers in order to develop the best products and communication tools. “This process is led by a growing marketing department that produced, with Grey Worldwide, the best ad in the history of the agency in Colombia so far,” he says.
It’s all underscored, of course, by QC’s backing — insurance that quality of product will rule the day. “The sole mention of Quality Chekd inspires great confidence in our consumers,” Cavelier says, “because they know that when they purchase our products they are automatically getting pure and globally certified quality for themselves and their families.”