Our Place in History Since 1933
After World War I, Ralph Reiter, who was a master baker, moved from his home in Rochester, Pennsylvania, to Akron, Ohio, where he set up a bakery. After a short time, he sold the bakery and turned his talents toward invention, creating the predecessor of what is today's gasoline gauge for automobiles. Ralph Reiter then followed what was to become the family destiny, and entered the butter business as Miller-Maid Creamery. The plant was on Forge Street in Akron, and later moved to Exchange Street near Grant Street in the heart of downtown.
In the 30s the trend was away from butter and toward fluid milk production. Not to be left in the past, Ralph Reiter and his son, Harold, founded Reiter Dairy February 8, 1933 on Sumner Street across from The University of Akron. Times were hard. Milk sold for eight cents a quart. But the little dairy grew, nourished by employee pride and enthusiasm. The Reiter's relied periodically on infusions of capital from close friends and even suppliers to enable the company to meet the Saturday night payroll -- or to pay for a load of oats for the horses.
Ralph Reiter's inventive skills were then put to work in his Dairy. He pioneered the use of cellophane to cover the tops of milk bottles; and he invented an applicator to place rubber bands around the covering. Reiter Dairy was the first to use the homogenization process in Akron, and it was then called "Mello-Milk." The Dairy business in the 30s and into the 40s was all home delivery in glass quart bottles. The horse barn was several blocks away, and it was not uncommon for the horses to make the trip from the dairy plant all by themselves after unloading at the end of the work day. A development considered very big at the time was the use of rubber shoes on the horses and rubber tires on the wagons to cut down on neighborhood noise.
Following World War II, the sale of milk in stores became all the rage, as did paper containers as a convenient way to sell milk in grocery stores. Akron's first supermarket was established on West Exchange Street and Reiter began to develop its store sales, using PurePak containers.
During the 1950s and 60s, Reiter grew by acquisition. Acquiring more than 20 dairies around northern Ohio, Reiter expanded into refrigerated and frozen food products and even developed a chain of convenience stores. In 1982, the company acquired a milk plant and distribution center from Lawson's which was located in Springfield, that enabled the company to expand its marketing area into Southern Ohio. In 2001, the acquisition of Dean Foods by Suiza Foods Corporation of Dallas, created a "...national geographic footprint," according to Gregg Engles, Chairman and CEO. The two companies merged to become a national dairy and specialty goods company which today operates more than 120 plants in the United States and Spain, employing approximately 29,000.
Quality and Food Safety
Reiter Dairy's mission is to consistently deliver safe and wholesome products to our valued customers. To meet this objective we have developed programs and policies that focus on the safety and quality of our products. At each of our manufacturing facilities we use a food safety system call Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP). HACCP is a scientific, systematic approach that assesses potential food safety issues across the food chain, from procurement and handling of raw materials, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product. HACCP establishes preventive measures to keep out potential food hazards and focuses on effective recordkeeping to demonstrate a continual commitment to food safety. Additionally, we apply what are known as Good Manufacturing Practices, which are requirements that ensure foods are produced under clean and sanitary conditions.
Reiter Dairy's commitment to food safety also addresses the issue of food allergens. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recognized egg, milk, peanuts, fish, crustacea, soy, tree nuts, and wheat as the eight most common allergens that can cause serious allergic reactions in some individuals. We consider all possible sources of the eight most common allergens from procurement of ingredients throughout our manufacturing process, and when present in our products, we declare these ingredients on the product label.
Most of our production lines are used to produce multiple products. Because some allergic consumers may be sensitive to small amounts of the allergenic protein, we understand their concern about the potential carryover of an allergen between products that are manufactured on shared equipment. At Reiter Dairy, we have stringent equipment cleaning procedures and product changeover practices to prevent allergen cross-contamination.
We comply with regulations that mandate labeling of ingredients, including any allergenic ingredients. We also include trans fat content on the labels of our products as required by a recent FDA regulation. All of our milk, cream and orange juice products have a declaration of zero grams trans fat per 8 fl oz serving. We have a labeling specialist on staff that can answer specific questions.
Our Grade "A" dairy operations are inspected by state regulatory agencies on a quarterly basis. Juice operations are inspected by FDA or state regulatory on an annual basis to assure compliance with FDA's Juice HACCP regulation. In addition to regulatory inspections, each manufacturing location is audited twice a year by an accredited third party audit firm. These audits provide an objective assessment of the facilities compliance with our quality, food safety and security policies. The audit process helps us maintain high standards for quality.
Security has become a priority in the food industry. The security of our employees, facilities and products is critical to our business. We require security measures not only at our manufacturing locations but also at our suppliers and distribution points. Measures include employee checks, visitor controls, and facility checks conducted at specific frequencies.
Commitment to the Environment
At Reiter Dairy, we are also mindful of the environment. We recycle our plastic bottles. We purchase trucks for maximum fuel efficiency, and recycle truck oil by burning it for heat in our garage. Our trucks are also shut off at every stop, reducing exhaust. We shred our paper, saving hundreds of trees each year. In addition, we recycle all used cell phones, by donating them for re-use by a local battered women's shelter.