Changing the way we did business
As an agricultural student at Michigan State University during the fall of 1979, Clark was given a class assignment to write a comprehensive business plan using the family farm that would, in theory, increase profits. At that time Cook’s Farm was selling their milk to the Michigan Milk Producers Association, a cooperative owned and controlled by dairy farmers throughout the state.
Clark’s plan was to halt selling the milk to the MMPA and construct a processing plant for the 300 gallons of milk they produced each day at the farm. The plan also incorporated the idea of putting milk into plastic bags, popular in Canada at the time and creating a drive-up window for local customers to purchase the farm fresh milk.
“I received a 92 percent grade on the project—second highest grade in the class,” recalls Clark. “Then I came home and built the plant—breaking ground in 1981,” he said. “In February 1982 we sold our first gallon of milk to area resident George Miller. The idea was to have farm fresh milk with a drive-up window—about 70 percent of our business picked it up that way.”