Snowvillians at Work
This blog was written by ACEnet’s Microenterprise Program Trainer, Kyle Verge and published on their website here.
Snowville Creamery, located just South of us in Meigs County, has provided our families with high quality dairy for years. Known for their use of A2/A2 genetics, which some research has found to be more digestible than the traditional A1 genetics (that cause inflammation and nausea in some people), “Snowville Creamery milk is as close to raw milk as you can legally buy at the grocers,” says Victoria Taylor, the owner. And this is especially essential in this tumultuous time where traditional supply lines are being disrupted. For during the time of Covid-19, Snowville continues to provide us our favorite yogurt, milk, cream, and cheese products.
The philosophy and the dairy products are both delicious, so if you’re interested there are plenty of ways to connect: A store locator can be found on the website, and you can keep up-to-date on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Finally, if you need some “Snowvillian” swag or creamery products, you can order online and pick them all up directly from the creamery
This week, I asked Heather Fuston, Marketing and Sales director, and Victoria Taylor, the owner, about the changes they’ve experienced as a result of pandemic. Their thoughtful answers highlight the resilience of Southeast Ohio and the promise of good things to come.
My first question is about you generally: What you’ve done during the shutdown — Are you working? What has been your experience?
I have continued working from home, and am so grateful for the ability to do so. I had to get some internet upgrades right away to be able to stay connected like I needed to (#RuralProblems), and having my two kids “working” from home with me has added to the challenge, but I think almost 2 months later, I’m starting to find my groove, ha!
I’m wondering how the transition worked for Snowville in general? Did you have to change anything if you remained open?
Snowville has remained open. As an agriculture business, we were deemed “essential” and have maintained our normal production schedule.
All employees that can work from home have been doing so. Our IT manager has been amazing in getting all of us whatever we need to maintain communication and connectivity. We set up a conference line and transitioned all of our weekly meetings to calls.
Have you all had a chance to talk about what the future might look like for Snowville? Did you need to access loans like the PPP Kiva or otherwise? If so, what was your experience like with those loans and how have they worked out?
Snowville was able to get funds through the PPP, which has been very helpful. The small business/dairy industry is always tight, but we’re definitely seeing the same strain as everyone else with loss of restaurant business and uncertain sales forecasts. We’re hanging in there, and just taking it all one step at a time.
Snowville has also submitted proposals to the USDA for milk donation reimbursement programs that will help supply locally produced milk and other foods to those in need through Ohio Foodbanks and other non-profit distributors.
Prior to the shutdown, Snowville was able to raise $15,000 through Kiva, which will go towards the purchase of a new yogurt filler.
What do you worry about going forward into the summer and fall in terms of business?
The main change and challenge will be with our marketing strategy. Snowville was built on grassroots marketing and one-on-one customer interactions. We like to spend a lot of time in stores and at local events sampling our products and meeting new customers. We are trying to reach customers in new ways now, and hope to resume those demos as soon as possible.
We have also made available for our customers to place orders for pickup at the Creamery. We will continue to do this for as long as customers need.
We have also been providing weekly donations to the school districts and food pantries in the area, which will continue for as long as possible as well.
What are you most proud of during the shutdown in relation to Snowville or otherwise?
The Snowville team has been amazingly adaptive and have pulled together to keep the ship sailing in the right direction – with essentially no blueprints on how to do it. Everyone on the team has worked so hard to ensure we are continuing to provide our products in the safest ways possible, and have been looking for new and innovative ways to serve our customers and community during this time. I am very proud of our team and our community’s resiliency.
Victoria when asked the same question, responded in almost the same way:
I personally am gratified by the crew here. They are managing to continue to do their work under difficult circumstances and have risen to the challenge admirably.
We are all looking forward to not having to stress about the possibility of catching something from each other, but our elevated standards of sanitation and efficiency are some things we intend to maintain even after the threat of the virus is past.
This pandemic has brought out the best in us, and it warms my heart to see how great the Snowvillains * really are.
(* yes, villains; that’s what we call ourselves.)