The Gibson family has grown its dairy farm from 120 acres in 1941 to 2,800 acres today.
In addition to milking 600 Holsteins, the Gibsons’ Lochmead Farms and Lochmead Dairy now boast a full production facility and dozens of Dari Mart stores in their vertically integrated business.
The original Lochmead Farms 4 miles west of Junction City, Ore., was established by Howard and Gladys Gibson in 1941. It is today operated by the third and fourth generation of Gibsons, including Stephanie Gibson-Hawks, the company’s general manager.
She works at the Lochmead Dairy production plant in the heart of the city on old Highway 99E, which, along with the first five of their Dari Mart stores, was built in 1965.
Stephanie’s father, Jock Gibson, and the family built the downtown processing plant, which today employs 14 people.
They grow roughly 75% of the feed for the cows on the farmland that surrounds the dairy.
Lochmead Farms today employs 60 people, Gibson-Hawks said, adding that the 44 Dari Mart stores have about 500 employees.
Today, Lochmead Farms and Lochmead Dairy, the two vertically integrated entities owned and operated by the Gibson family, work together to provide the dairy products.
Lochmead Farms also grows a variety of crops — such as blueberries and peppermint — and provides some of the ice cream ingredients, along with hazelnuts, grass seed and other crops.
Early on, Lochmead Dairy “was like everyone else, we sold to co-ops, left the cans at the end of the road, that sort of thing,” Gibson-Hawks said. “But we really wanted to see the hard work of our product and all the labor we put into it protected to the end.
“We know that if we work so hard on a product, we want to make sure it’s handled as best as it can be clear to the end. That means we control the entire process, including distribution to our own stores.”
Currently, the farm’s herd produces about 6,200 gallons of milk per day. As a result of the growth of the business since 1941, Lochmead Dairy recently installed a 20,000-gallon, vertical, stainless steel milk silo at the processing plant.
“We also just recently built a new barn with waterbeds in it and it’s pretty impressive,” she said. “You know you’ve got happy cows when you do nothing else but give them a nice waterbed and their milk production goes up.”
The fluid milk is made into bottled milk, ice cream, sherbet, yogurt, buttermilk, cream and other items at the Lochmead Dairy processing plant and delivered to the Dari Mart outlets each day.
Recent energy conservation practices at Lochmead are steps to reduce its carbon footprint. It recently installed solar panels on the processing plant and Dari Mart stores. LED light fixtures are also used around the milk at the plant to protect against oxidation.
As a result, Lochmead recently reported “a 26.1% potential reduction of carbon emissions from our dairy practices.”