Superior Dairy sold, will be subsidiary of Michigan Milk Producers group

·3 min read

PERRY TWP. – Superior Dairy will become a subsidiary of the Michigan Milk Producers Association, the two companies announced late Monday.

Plans are for Michigan Milk Producers to acquire all assets of LEL Operating Co., which includes three companies: Superior Dairy, Creative Edge Design Group and LEL Logistics. Terms of the deal, which is set to close Dec. 31, weren't announced.

The deal builds on a partnership Superior Dairy and Michigan Milk Producers have developed over the past six years, the companies said in a news release announcing the sale.

More: Technical changes spur growth, new jobs at Superior Dairy

More: The Michigan Milk Producers Association is a multi-state operation.

Adding Superior will allow Michigan Milk Producers to provide a greater focus on market strategies more quickly, according to the announcement.

The deal will lead to greater innovation, product diversity and efficiencies in the marketplace. The association expects to move faster to meet needs of customers and consumers, while supportingSuperior Dairy's long family history in Stark County farmers, employees and other stakeholders.

Superior Dairy formed in 1922 and currently is managed by members of the fourth generation of the Soehnlen family, who are descendants of the founders.

Members of the Soehnlen family will continue to lead the local operation, which has facilities at 4719 Navarre Road SW. Once the deal closes, Greg Soehnlen, president and CEO of Superior Dairy and LEL Operating Co., will become chief operating officer of Michigan Milk Producers.

The Soehnlen family has owned and operated Superior Dairy since 1922 and five generations have been involved in the business. Daniel P. Soehnlen (seated right) is a member of the third generation and J.P. Soehnlen (left) is part of the fourth generation. Other fourth generation family members are (standing left to right) Dan Soehnlen, Al Soehnlen, Doug Soehnlen, Chris Soehnlen, Greg Soehnlen, and Emil Soehnlen. (Repository file photo)
The Soehnlen family has owned and operated Superior Dairy since 1922 and five generations have been involved in the business. Daniel P. Soehnlen (seated right) is a member of the third generation and J.P. Soehnlen (left) is part of the fourth generation. Other fourth generation family members are (standing left to right) Dan Soehnlen, Al Soehnlen, Doug Soehnlen, Chris Soehnlen, Greg Soehnlen, and Emil Soehnlen. (Repository file photo)

Superior Dairy has been expanding, spending $25 million on improvements since 2017.

Last year, the company said it would spend more than $10 million for an addition and equipment to upgrade milk processing. That followed $7 million invested for a production line and infrastructure improvements in 2018, and another $7 million in 2019 for a building to clean tankers.

With the expansions, the company's workforce surpassed 400 people in 2020.

Greg Soehnlen said the partnership with Michigan Milk Producers and its members has played an integral role in the company's growth.

"By taking advantage of our combined manufacturing assets, we will continue our trajectory and the opportunities that this collaboration enables,” Soehnlen said in the release announcing the deal.

Superior can process more than 300,000 gallons of fluid milk per day. Tankers bring in milk from farms in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania.

The dairy ships milk to customers in 44 states, with much of the product co-packaged and sold under a private brand label by large retailers around the country. Superior brand products are found locally at Fishers Foods and other retailers.

Michigan Milk Producers is a cooperative owned by dairy farmers and founded in 1916. It serves dairies in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin, handling about 5 billion pounds of milk each year.

Based in the Detroit suburb of Novi, Michigan, it operates two milk processing centers in Michigan and Middlebury Cheese Co. in Middlebury, Indiana. In addition to milk and cheese, its facilities produce butter, cream, milk powder and condensed skim milk.

Adding Superior Dairy allows Michigan Milk Producers to tap into the company's product development experience and bring additional processing to its dairy farmer members, Joe Diglio, president and CEO of Michigan Milk Producers, said in the release.

"The acquisition of Superior Dairy demonstrates how MMPA dairy farmer member-owners are committed to investing in innovation and technology for their future. This move ensures there is a reliable outlet for our farmers’ milk while securing their future within the dairy community,” Doug Chapin, Michigan Milk Producers board chairman and dairy farmer, said in the release.

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Superior Dairy sold, will be part of Michigan Milk Producers

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