Team Services Brings Pioneers Together on Sustainable Dairy Farming

Author: Ben Richardson | Coordinator, Corporate Partnerships

Team Services Senior Director, Evin Gordon and Coordinator, Ben Richardson are leading a project to bring together two dynamic clients – Fair Oaks Farms and Georgetown University – to address growing sustainability/marketing challenges facing the dairy industry. On Saturday, September 16, Team Services organized a group of second-year MBA students from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business (MSB) to visit Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana. Fair Oaks is both the nation’s largest agritourism destination, with several family-oriented attractions designed to introduce visitors to the business of dairy farming, and a 36,000-cow dairy farm advancing the productivity and sustainability of its industry. The innovators behind Fair Oaks, Mike and Sue McCloskey, credit the success of their many business ventures to their strong values, from founding Select Milk Producers in 1994 (now one of the largest dairy co-ops in America) to launching Fairlife in 2012 (a premium milk brand distributed and co-owned by Coca-Cola).

The McCloskeys, deeply committed to the well-being of their cows and the environmental sustainability of their operations, face increasing pressure to adopt less eco-friendly practices due to widespread consumer misconceptions stemming from misleading marketing campaigns. Team Services is helping tap into Georgetown’s active, insightful student body to discuss practical solutions to this issue while also providing  unique learning opportunities for these MBA students.  Evin and Ben have worked closely with Mike and Sue McCloskey to authentically connect them with Georgetown students and faculty, in order for them to gain a unique vantage point into consumer perceptions.  Through these interactions, the goal is to help educate the dairy co-op on how they can best convey and market their fact-based story. As farmers at their core, Mike and Sue are willing to produce what the consumer wants as long as the consumer understands all of the facts before making their purchasing decisions.

... to authentically connect [Mike and Sue] with Georgetown students and gain a unique vantage point into consumer perceptions.

In addition to the farm trips, Team Services has orchestrated two campus visits by the McCloskeys to speak directly with faculty and students. These discussions have led to important insights from these audiences to help shape future marketing campaigns by Mike, Sue and the dairy industry. Team Services is also working closely with an MSB professor who is writing a business case study addressing the important sustainability challenges facing the dairy industry.  This case study will eventually be available to universities across the world to access and help educate students and consumers on these issues.