PORTLAND — Alpenrose Dairy is under new leadership after the 128-year-old Portland institution was recently bought by a Seattle-area competitor.
Smith Brothers Farms, which finalized a deal to purchase Alpenrose on Oct. 14, has hired Josh Reynolds as vice president and general manager of the historic dairy, tasked with overseeing both day-to-day operations and strategic growth.
Reynolds, 49, previously served as CEO of Ruby Jewel, another well-known Portland brand that makes premium ice cream. He also spent nearly 20 years with Gray & Co. — the country’s largest supplier of maraschino cherries, with processing facilities in Oregon and Michigan — until it was acquired by Seneca Foods in 2015.
In an interview with the Capital Press, Reynolds said Alpenrose will continue to work with local farms while producing fluid milk, cottage cheese and sour cream at the dairy’s Southwest Portland facilities.
“We want to be as close to the source as we can, and support Northwest agriculture that way,” Reynolds said.
Founded in 1891 by Florian Cadonau, Alpenrose Dairy was owned and operated by four generations of the Cadonau family until plans for a sale materialized earlier this year.
The youngest generation of family owners — Carl Cadonau III, Tracey Cadonau McKinnon and Cary Cadonau, great-great grandchildren of Florian Cadonau — attempted to block the sale to Smith Brothers Farms, but were unsuccessful in court.
On Sept. 26, the Alpenrose Dairy Board of Directors voted to proceed with the sale. Terms have not been disclosed. The deal did not include 52 acres of community space, where Alpenrose has maintained three Little League baseball fields, a velodrome track, 4-H Discovery Farm and replica frontier town named “Dairyville.”
Public access to the community space remains unclear moving forward.
As for the dairy itself, Reynolds said Alpenrose retained “a vast majority” of its 150 employees, and has no plans to downsize.
“Downsizing is not fun. Growing and expanding is fun,” Reynolds said. “That’s what I signed up to achieve.”
During his two years at Ruby Jewel, Reynolds said he was able to help the ice cream company double its revenue and triple its distribution, expanding retail by adding a new shop and setting up mobile locations in venues such as the Moda Center and Oregon Zoo.
It was then he became familiar with Smith Brothers Farms, and decided to take on a new challenge at Alpenrose.
While demand for fluid milk is down, Reynolds said he is eyeing opportunities for new value-added products and markets, such as re-entering the ice cream business. For nearly 40 years, Alpenrose made Baskin-Robbins ice cream but parted ways in 2016.
Alpenrose currently makes about 900 deliveries every week to customers ranging from small coffee shops to larger grocery stores like New Seasons, Trader Joe’s and Fred Meyer.
Dustin Highland, CEO of Smith Brothers Farms, said in an announcement that Reynolds will be “integral to the growth and continued sustainability” of Alpenrose.
“Josh has a proven track record of leading organizations and developing effective strategies for business growth,” Highland said. “I’m thrilled to have someone of his experience and abilities lead Alpenrose Dairy through the exciting opportunities we have in front of us.”
Reynolds said he is appreciative of what the Cadonau family has built with Alpenrose, and is mindful of the company’s legacy.
“There are people in the company who have been with us many years. Their parents worked here,” Reynolds said. “I take that really seriously. We are now collectively stewards of this business.”