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Celebrating 25 years of dairy apparel and gear

Progressive Dairy Editorial Intern Courtney Moser Published on 06 November 2019
Udder Tech team members

When it comes to commemorating a milestone, what is the best way to celebrate? With cake, of course. The cake to celebrate the milestone in this story is carefully baked, decorated with purple frosting and an array of colorful sprinkles, and topped with 25 candles.

This is the story of celebration and excitement as two women commemorate 25 years of business. But there’s more than just a cake to celebrate the Minnesota-based company’s success. There’s also the added benefit of a fan favorite to accompany the tasty cake: ice cream.

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A recipe for success

In order to make any great cake, there must be important ingredients all brought together by a baker. For Udder Tech, Cheryl Mohn is the master chef. In 1994, Cheryl was milking cows in a tiestall barn alongside of her husband, Bruce; and their three children, Brent, Angie and Dana. As a mother of three, Cheryl was trying to find ways to get out of the barn and into the house with her family more quickly. It was then she noticed an inefficiency in the milking process.

“I was running back and forth to grab towels and dip them in a bucket and then going back to the cow,” Cheryl says. She recalls thinking, “Gee, if I could just have my towels with me, it would go much quicker.” Around the same time, teat dipping was introduced, which added the need to run to the cart for dip cups. This was yet another ingredient that caused Cheryl to think, “If I had them both with me, I could just go from cow to cow.” With this idea in mind, Cheryl put her home economics and sewing background to use. She designed and made a denim towel tote with loops for the teat dip cups to hang from.

The first time she used the towel tote, Cheryl recalls saving about 20 minutes to milk their 50 cows because she no longer had a need to run back to the cart. With her new product, she could simply move from one cow to the next. After slight revisions, Cheryl had a final product she enjoyed and shared it with neighboring farmers to test it out too. The towel tote was well liked by those farmers who also found the product useful.

With this feedback, Cheryl decided to take her idea to World Dairy Expo despite having never made it off of the farm to attend the event previously. “I only sold about 20 items,” Cheryl says. “My first experience at [the] expo was kind of humbling, but we didn’t give up.”

From this single flagship product, Cheryl continued to design and create products from inside her family’s mobile home in Lakeville, Minnesota. While daughter Dana was just 5 when her mother began her business, she recalls their hallway being lined with boxes. “That’s kind of my first memory of Udder Tech is a small house with boxes of stuff everywhere,” Dana says.

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Since the business was being run out of their home, phone calls would also ring through to the barn phone. Dana says people could often hear the milk pump in the background when someone in the barn answered. “The order might have even been written on a breeder card,” Dana says.

Sprinkles of additions

As the business continued to gain popularity and grow, production and product options did as well, which required changes and additions.

The Mohn family moved out of the mobile home and into a house they built on their farm, Mohn Dairy. They later built a shed on their property specifically for the office. Additional employees were also hired to assist in production and shipments. In the beginning of 2015, Dana Casto officially became one of those employees.

From a young age, Dana helped her mother with taking product orders and attending World Dairy Expo beginning in 1997. Dana credits this to spurring her interest to attend the University of Wisconsin – Madison to be an ag and applied economics and dairy science double major. Upon graduation, she had a full-time job doing sales for about four years before returning to her family’s company.

Almost five years later, the mother-daughter duo of Cheryl and Dana continues to lead the way – Cheryl as president and founder, and Dana as the business manager. Tina Stiles, their office manager, has also been a key player in growing their business as well as Bruce Mohn who serves as vice president.

Throughout the years, over 60 products have been sprinkled into their line. From the initial towel tote to aprons, milking sleeves to calf blankets, bibbed overalls and beyond, a variety of products have been introduced.

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The Udder Tech team continues to respond to suggestions from customers. “As things evolve and people request different items, that’s how we come up with our different products,” Dana says. A resounding suggestion was the color purple.

Purple frosting and candles to celebrate 25 years of business

Taking into consideration the numerous requests for purple bibbed overalls, Cheryl and Dana decided it was the “color of champions.” The celebratory purple option was unveiled at World Dairy Expo in October as part of their 25th anniversary celebration. It is the sixth color option along with black, green, blue, pink and high vision yellow.

Another way the team has “lit their 25 candles” this year is with the purchase of a new office location. In early June, they made the move from Lakeville to Rosemount, Minnesota. “It doesn’t seem like 25 years,” Cheryl says. “It’s just kind of amazing.”

Udder Tech team members

The added benefitof ice cream (i.e., family)

Just like any cake tastes better with a scoop of ice cream, this business feels more success because of its family ties.

Cheryl proudly says, “We have the best customers in the world, and we are very fortunate to be in this industry.” At the same time, she says the most rewarding aspect of her business is the fact Dana wanted to come back to help manage it.

“It is so special when you have built a business and know that someone from your family wants to carry on the legacy you have built,” Cheryl says.

Dana is also proud to have returned to the family business. “I think it’s rewarding to have a business that my parents started and that they have been able to grow and grow enough that I was able to come back,” Dana says.

Cheryl is not only a proud mother of Dana but also of her and Bruce’s two other children, Brent Mohn and Angie Wubben. “I think anyone who is raised on a dairy farm knows you just have to pitch in when you have to, so everybody puts the different hats on and helps as needed,” Cheryl says of her children, their spouses and their grandchildren.

Over the past 25 years, the company has received feedback from happy customers near and far, and Cheryl says it’s continually rewarding. Just five years ago, “People were coming up to me personally saying, ‘Thank you, Cheryl, for making things that make our lives easier.’ I just never expected or looked at Udder Tech that way until then. What we are doing is helping people in agriculture.”

From her towel tote invention in a 50-cow, tiestall barn to celebrating 25 years of successful business with numerous products and her daughter Dana and other family by her side, Cheryl continues to serve others in the dairy industry and beyond.  end mark

PHOTO 1: The Udder Tech team members in a photo booth showing off the newly released purple bibbed overalls.

PHOTO 2: The mother-daughter duo behind Udder Tech. Photos provided by Dana Casto of Udder Tech Inc.

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