Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Arnaud Solandt, president and co-founder of Montchevre, explains how this image represents his business.
Born and raised in France, I moved to the United States with my family in 1983. Two years later, I took over my father's business due to unforeseen circumstances, representing French food manufacturers in the United States, Canada, Japan and South Pacific. Following European Union trade sanctions in 1987, I was forced to set up my own production; and in 1989, Jean Rossard and I launched Montchevre, the leading U.S. goat cheese manufacturer and first to produce non-GMO goat cheese.
We began as a small operation in a 4,000 square-foot former cheddar plant in Preston, Wisconsin, making outstanding cheeses that required the highest-quality milk. One of Montchevre's greatest accomplishments has been establishing the largest network of independent goat milk farmers in the United States. We are honored and committed to supporting our network of more than 400 independent family farms, who each produce milk exclusively for Montchevre. We couldn't produce award-winning goat cheeses without them; and therefore, we have the responsibility to ensure each farm is running a sustainable operation.
This photo of the Schaft family holding the kids and laughing is the perfect representation of the relationship Montchevre has with its farmers, goats and its community. We are invested in the best practices and ethics and ensure a safe and pleasant working environment for all our employees, including our goats.
Both Jean and I are still very much involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, working closely with Montchevre's network of independent family farms and employing full-time field technicians who are dedicated to farm support, sustainability and helping farmers achieve quality goals.
One of the biggest challenges we've had to overcome is the decrease of farms providing quality milk. It's not to say that people don't care, there is just a lack of education, causing farmers who are genuinely trying to produce a superior product to fail within their first couple of years in the business.
At Montchevre, we provide our farmers with ongoing training in addition to a team of field technicians to ensure they are getting the support they need to continue producing the highest quality milk possible. We've also recently donated a $100,000 sponsorship to Southwest Wisconsin Technical College to lead the Dairy Goat Herd Management Program to provide a proper education to future farmers. The gift will cover instructional costs for 11 online courses, five mentorship courses and a two-day hands-on Dairy Goat Academy in addition to marketing and coordination costs.
Edited for brevity and clarity by Sammi Caramela.