Creamery Team Spotlight: Riley Takes

Riley is the baby of the Takes family. He’s been around dairy farming since he was just three years old and remains very much an instrumental part of our farm and creamery operations. Although he’s wrapping up his last full semester at the University of Iowa he still spends three to four full days back here in Ely helping milk cows, make dairy products and deliver those products to area stores and restaurants. Riley gets a lot of crud for being the youngest of six kids, but the truth is, we couldn’t do what we do here without him. “I want to learn all about the business inside and out. It might take me awhile, but ultimately I want to learn the ins and outs of each position at the creamery so I can continue to help the creamery grow.”

Read more about Riley…


What do you do for the family business?

I have a role at both the farm and the creamery. At the farm, I help milk cows and help feed calves and cows. I also help maintain the farm. At the creamery I am the distribution coordinator; twice a week I deliver our dairy products to local grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses who buy our products. I am also a production assistant, helping bottle milk and make cheese curds. Occasionally I will help with sales in the store, at samplings, and at farmers markets, too.


Did you help with the family farm before the creamery opened?

Yes, we started dairy farming when I was preschool age and instead of going to preschool my mom would take me out to the milk house where she had a little desk with activities for me to do while she milked the cows. After each milking was over I’d then help my mom feed calves. I had to be only a 3-4 years old then. There are times when I was younger that I really didn’t like helping on the farm, but looking back now I’m glad that’s how I grew up.

Between the farm and the creamery, I really don’t have a preference. I like being able to bounce around and do different things every day.


What was it like when you first learned you were opening a creamery?

My dad was always throwing around the idea of us opening a creamery but he had a lot of crazy ideas so I didn’t take him too seriously. Then when my parents bought the building and he brought me in here for the first time I figured out he was really serious about the idea. Even after that, the idea seemed absurd, but seeing his vision come alive is really remarkable.


What is it like working for your family?

It has its ups and downs (like any job), but overall I do really like it. I think there’s a level of honesty that we all have with each other that’s advantageous. We will criticize each other, but at the end of the day, it’s because we have that honesty and I think that helps us be the best version of ourselves and allows our business to be great.


What have you learned since the creamery opened?

Only having the farm we didn’t do a good job of sharing our story. Now with the creamery, we are more interactive with the community now with the creamery business sharing facts about our farm and agriculture in general. We were more isolated when we only had the farm. There are a lot of good people in this community and great that we get to share our businesses with them. For our entire family, having the creamery is more rewarding see the product from start to finish then go out to see others enjoying it – it’s great.


What do you do when you’re not working on the farm or at the creamery?

I am currently studying business management at the University of Iowa and will graduate this summer. For fun, I like snowboarding, playing guitar, a lot of fishing, and visiting friends.


How will your degree shape your role in the family business?

When I graduate with my degree I think I will be able to help add a unique perspective. My degree is unique to me among my parents and siblings so I will be able to bring forward new ideas and look at things through the lens of my education, just as they add perspective with their own experience.


How do you see your role at the creamery developing?

I think it’ll change faster than it might if I started working at another business. I want to learn all about the business inside and out. It might take me awhile, but ultimately I want to learn the ins and outs of each position at the creamery so I can continue to help the creamery grow.


How have you seen the creamery grow since it first opened?

I remember when the store first opened I could work the store by myself open to close, and now we can hardly make it through the day without needing at least three people. Looking back it’s kind of funny- I would sit up here and do my homework and not many people came in, but we can’t do that now. Traffic has grown significantly and it sometimes shocking to see!


How do you see the creamery growing in the future, and what part does your role play?

Several years from now I think we will have a solid product line, right now we are pretty limited with the three products we have – curds, ice cream and bottled milk. With the expansion of our products, my role will transition from distribution to production and product development.  I won’t be doing deliveries forever, I will still have a part in what stores receive which products. I hope to be someone that the future distribution coordinator can look to for guidance.


What are your favorite products available at the creamery store?

I drink a lot of whole milk, and my favorite ice cream flavor is the limited edition Black Raspberry Cheesecake we have available right now.


I’ve bought a lot of the local vendor products, I like Cheryl’s Queso, Tall Paul’s Pickled Asparagus, and all of the varieties of Fireside Wine – all are great.

  • Posted by Josie Rozum
  • On February 25, 2018