Kalamazoo Creamery Collection
Health Galore Since 1904! This was not the slogan of a pharmaceutical company or even a hospital here in Kalamazoo but, this was the well-known slogan of the Kalamazoo Creamery Company that was found at 706 Lake Street.
George E. Steers started the company in 1904, then located in the 400 Block of East South Street. By 1919 the company had grown and moved into the former City Union Brewery near the corner of Lake and Portage Street. Due to Kalamazoo joining the prohibition movement and becoming a dry city in 1915, the Brewery was forced out of business, making room for the Creamery to come in.
For many years, the company produced milk in glass bottles that was delivered locally as well as ice cream mix and cottage cheese that was kept in various sized stoneware crocks.
By 1965 due to technology changes in the bottling industry and the rising costs of modernization, the Creamery sold its bottled milk business to Dean Milk of Chicago, Illinois. Dean foods continued to package its milk under the KloverGold trademark, the Kalamazoo Creamery’s local brand. The Creamery then began to focus on surplus milk manufacturing. Surplus milk manufacturing was the process of using milk not used for bottling for other products.
In 1970 the company’s owners sold the Creamery to the Independent Cooperative Milk Producers Association of Grand Rapids. By then the company was producing butter, powdered milk and condensed skim milk. The Creamery served well-known companies throughout the United States including Yoplait Yogurt, Country Fresh and Kraft. One of the Creamery’s largest customers was Ross Laboratories in Sturgis, Michigan, the makers of Similac infant formula.
The Creamery continued to thrive and expand and by 1979 the company’s sales totaled $19 million. In 1981 David Schultz was hired as the production supervisor for the Creamery. David was originally from Ohio and attended Ohio State University for Dairy Technology. He worked for various plants in Ohio before his friend and former classmate at OSU, George Wayne (then manager of the Kalamazoo Creamery) offered him a job in Kalamazoo. David accepted and moved his wife and family to Kalamazoo.
Even though the glass bottling of milk had stopped many years before David arrived at the Creamery, over the years he was able to collect some of the old bottles, cheese crocks and advertisements that document the history of the Creamery. In April 2015 David donated his collection to Museum.
David continued to work at the Creamery until it closed in 1997 when it was sold to Milk Marketing Inc. of Strongsville, Ohio. The Co-Op’s supply of milk was moved to Goshen, Indiana, the home of Milk Marketing Inc.’s Dairy Farm Products plant.
Although the Creamery is no longer in business and the plant on Lake Street was demolished in 2011, these bottles, crocks and advertisements serve as evidence of a Kalamazoo company that was able change with the times and survive over 90 years.