For several years, Dan Takes had a vision of starting a creamery right by the family’s Linn County dairy, and they would provide farm fresh dairy products to local consumers. Dan’s wife, Debbie, knew how much work would be necessary for the creamery, and with six children, Dan’s business vision needed to wait for the right opportunity.
“I put him off for several years because we had young kids and I knew the rigors of a dairy farm and creamery,” says Takes. “Finally, after the kids grew up, they were all behind us, and gave us the push to start the business about four years ago.”
Dan and Debbie’s Creamery quickly earned local fame in Ely and became a must-see destination for visitors from across the state. Its positive local impact and success has earned the Farm Bureau members this month’s Iowa Farm Bureau Renew Rural Iowa (RRIA) Entrepreneur Award. The award recognizes an entrepreneur or business that makes a positive local impact and contributes to the vitality of rural Iowa.
Josie Rozum, one of the Takes children actively involved in the family business, says the creamery does so much more than sell dairy products; it also provides customers and visitors an educational opportunity. Rozum noted that just this week, the dairy and creamery hosted six tours with visitors from across Iowa.
“The coolest thing about our shop is that it’s an experience when you come here,” Rozum says. “There’s a viewing room where you can watch us make different products and have samples, and we have a retail shop that exclusively sells Iowa-made products so we can showcase other Iowa businesses.”
Today the Takes family milks 150 Holsteins, with each cow producing about 10 gallons of milk per day. The milk from the Takes’ dairy may become their popular brand of chocolate whole milk, one of their five flavors of cheese curds, or one of their famous flavors of ice cream like their seasonal Iowa sweet corn, or their new top-selling flavor, black raspberry pie.
“We love what we do, but every day is a long day in the dairy business,” Takes says. “Just like any business, there are ups and downs, and with a dairy, you’re tied down all day, every day of the week, to milk and care for the cows.” With the whole family involved in the creamery and helping on the dairy farm, Takes wouldn’t have it any other way, even with the 12 to 14-hour days.
Rob Pangburn, an Iowa Farm Bureau regional manager representing Linn County, says the creamery has a huge impact on the local economy, with local Hy-Vee grocery stores selling their products. “Dan and Debbie’s has become a destination for a lot of people, especially in the summer months,” says Pangburn. “With easy access from the bike trails that run through Ely, the creamery has become a popular stop for bicyclists and has put Ely on the map.”
RRIA is an Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) initiative supporting new and existing businesses through education, mentoring, and financial resources. Since its inception, RRIA has helped create $125M in economic impact for rural communities. The RRIA program is based on the five pillars of Education, Mentoring, Connecting, Recognition, and Financing. The next RRIA Business Success Seminar, “The Journey to Your Vision,” takes place October 17 at Pulpit Rock Brewing Company in Decorah. For more information about RRIA and the RRIA Pathways, a searchable technology that connects entrepreneurs with resources by clicking here.