Quality, customer satisfaction, and family – these are three values that have led Toft Dairy to years of consistent expansion and progress in Sandusky. 118 years to be exact.
Farm to Fruition
Founded in 1900 by Chris and Matilda Toft as a simple milk farm, Toft Dairy is now the oldest in Ohio, and the only locally-owned-and-operated dairy on Lake Erie between Toledo and Cleveland. They may not have known it at the time, but Chris and Matilda were setting the foundation for a long future of success with their commitment to quality and customer service.
In the early 1900s, quality meant raising purebred dairy cattle, and customer service meant hand-ladling milk for the families they served. Even in the early days, business growth and expansion were a part of the family’s vision, as their business made key decisions for advancement. First was acquiring the iconic milk wagon – a horse and wagon that would make trips into the city, expanding Toft’s market and serving families along the way.
Later, in 1935, Toft Dairy acquired Oswald Dairy of Sandusky and began retail operations, positioning what began as a small family business for decades of success and resembling the Toft Diary many know today.
The Trail the Milk Wagon Blazed
Expansion and growth were achieved not just through acquisition of other diaries and properties, but also through constant innovation in products and delivery of products. Key product and sales innovations over the 20th century included:
- Pasteurizing milk
- Acquiring trucks for regular wholesale and retail routes
- Homogenizing milk
- Adding a line of high quality ice cream products
- Opening a retail store
- Adopting use of plastic jugs
- Adding new products and packaging
It’s nearly impossible to sum up 100 years of growth in a few bullet points, and the progress did not stop in the 21st century. Just imagine what was recently a rural farm on South Hayes Avenue is now a 76,000 square foot high- tech operating facility. Boasting unique marketing partnerships all across the state, serving over 70 flavors of ice cream in a “landmark” parlor, and powering operation with an on-site wind turbine, Toft Dairy has continued the trajectory that was laid out for them way back when the milk wagon made its debut.
Leveraging a Legacy
Growing into a modern, multi-million dollar operation does not mean Chris and Matilda’s original values of quality and customer satisfaction have been lost. Today, Toft ensures quality by securing all of its milk from local family farms – all within a 50-mile radius. Each farmer has pledged not to use rBST synthetic growth hormones in their production process. As they say, better cows equal better milk and what’s better than Great Lakes cows? Customer satisfaction is prioritized by using the finest ingredients to produce the highest quality products. And don’t forget the fun flavors that customers look forward to every year such as “Brownie Bandit” as a celebration of Cedar Point’s new ride Steel Vengeance and “Bicentennial Butterscotch Toffee” in honor of Sandusky’s Bicentennial.
Quality, customer satisfaction, and family, these are the values that define Toft Dairy and their place in Sandusky’s past, present, and future. There is an endless amount of pride in a family business. With pride comes with care, concern, dedication and drive. The heart Toft Dairy has for their business is what makes them successful. Toft has been family owned and operated since its foundation in 1900 and is now run by third, fourth, and fifth generation Toft family members. At any given day of the week, at least one owner is present, living out the legacy of quality, customer satisfaction, and family.
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