Q&A: Mark Eberhard, Owner and General Manager
By Jan Mitchell
Owner and General Manager
Describe what your company does. How many employees do you have?
Eberhard’s Dairy, located in Redmond, is the last remaining dairy processing plant east of the Cascades in Oregon. We manufacture and distribute a full line of award-winning, handcrafted dairy products including milk, organic milk, buttermilk, butter, cottage cheese, sour cream, and ice cream. We have over 50 dedicated employees that are committed to producing the highest quality dairy products available.
How long have you been in operation? How did your business get started? Why Oregon?
We have been in operation for 68 years and are still family owned. Eberhard’s Dairy was founded by my grandfather, John Eberhard, Sr., who emigrated from Switzerland. After arriving to Oregon with 95 cents in his pocket, he worked at several dairies in the area before having the opportunity to buy the building where Eberhard’s stands today. He purchased the building in 1951 and started it all with a butter churn, using farm-separated cream. He, together with my father Jack, and my uncles Bob and Richard, worked together to grow the business for over half a century.
What makes your product unique?
The quality and freshness of our products stand out because the milk travels from local farms to our customers in 24 hours, creating the freshest milk and dairy products available in Central Oregon. We have been a member of the Quality Chek’d Dairies Association since 1983, which holds us to a higher standard of dairy practices and puts our products ahead of the competition. Our premium packaging also stands out, particularly our white milk jugs which are light resistant, enable vitamin retention, and prohibit oxidization.
What other businesses are dependent on what you do? How has the local community benefited?
Some people may be surprised with how far reaching our business is and how many other local businesses depend on us for the products and services that we provide. Some examples of local businesses and industries that we service include grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, resorts, schools/nutrition services, colleges, craft ice cream scoop shops, candy manufacturers, distribution centers, co-packing partners, correctional facilities, assisted living centers and hospitals. Our clients know that they can rely on us because of our outstanding products, excellent customer service, and a track record that has been proven over our many years in business. We are proud to be the local’s choice.
We have always had a commitment to the community. We not only want to produce the best dairy products available, but we also want to give back, support, and listen to our community so we make a point of supporting a wide variety of local organizations through donations and sponsorships.
How has your business changed since it began?
At almost 70 years old, the biggest change has been our growth. Our facilities have expanded and so have the number of products that we produce, going from a cream-buying station to now producing a full line of hand-crafted dairy products. Through co-packing and distribution opportunities, we have become a truly Northwestern company, expanding our reach beyond Oregon to Washington, Idaho and Northern California.
What do you think your business will look like in five years?
In the next twenty years the population of Redmond alone is projected to increase from 29,000 to 50,000 and I see Eberhard’s Dairy growing along with the population. That means reinvesting in our equipment and facilities in the next five years to stay ahead of the demand that we know is coming. It has always been our goal to grow faster than the community and we are fortunate that the rapid growth and tourism we enjoy in Central Oregon provides us with the opportunity to continually grow Eberhard’s Dairy as an industry leader.
What are your thoughts on the current state of manufacturing? Thoughts on the future of manufacturing?
For the dairy manufacturing industry, I see a bright future of growth. Here at Eberhard’s Dairy we remain committed to provide safe, stable manufacturing jobs for those in our own backyard. Transparency is also important in the manufacturing marketplace today. Our customers value transparency and we provide that with a local product that is locally sourced and manufactured.
Why is it important to have manufacturing in Oregon?
The simple answer is that it is important to have manufacturing in Oregon to create living wage jobs for our citizens. This is something that I am passionate about. It is our goal to create opportunities for Oregonians that they can depend on, be able to support their families, and have an excellent quality of life in this great state we get to live in.
What makes you excited to come to work every day?
I don’t view what I do as going to work every day, I truly love what I do. I get to interact with a fantastic group of people at Eberhard’s Dairy each day and provide jobs for a local community that I care about. It is also a profound honor to continue the legacy that my forefathers have established through their life’s work and to be able to service the community that has been with us every step of the way.