Recorder – The owners of Sidehill Farm are trying to sell their yogurt-making business in Hawley

HAWLEY — The founders and owners of Sidehill Farm, said to be the only commercial yogurt maker in Massachusetts, want to sell to someone with the energy and vision to continue expanding the business.

Since 2006, Amy Klippenstein and Paul Lacinski have been building a yogurt business that does nearly $1 million in annual sales in stores in Massachusetts and neighboring states.

“Business is really good. Yogurt is in great demand,” said Klippenstein. “There’s tons of potential.”

However, the couple thinks someone else can take this successful business to the next level.

“Someone with more energy, more vision can do the right thing by the company,” Klippenstein said.

Klippenstein and Lacinski say they don’t have the energy to expand the business and don’t think it’s fair for the company to let it coast.

“We act more like employees,” Lacinski said, explaining that instead of developing new products and expanding into new markets, they spend more time relaxing.

“For a business to continue successfully into the future, it needs someone who can reach it, and we don’t,” Klippenstein said.

Some potential expansions include entering larger markets in other states or diversifying the product base. Klippenstein and Lacinski said consumers want more fruit-flavored products like yogurt, kefir and cottage cheese.

The couple hopes to sell the business for $750,000, with most of the cost being equipment, including stainless steel tools and moving trucks. They’re willing to wait as long as it takes to find the right buyer, and they’re looking for someone who believes in the mission and is willing to honor their contract — Sidehill Farm has a contract to buy milk from Gus and Kyra Tafel’s Meadowsweet Farm. to 2027 — and will allow five current employees to continue working with Sidehill Farm if they choose. Klippenstein and Lacinski say decency — one of the company’s values ​​— is critical in the new owner.

Lacinski hopes that a loyal customer will learn that Sidehill Farm is for sale, decide to take the yogurt-making plunge and buy the company.

Lacinski and Klippenstein said they have no future plans after the sale, saying they “need to clear their plates” before moving on to their next venture. They announced that they are not retiring and expect to have another 15 years in their careers.

“We’re both at a point in life where we built it from scratch,” Klippenstein said. “It was our passion and our dream. We felt it was something we had to do.”

The two were called to start a yogurt manufacturing business in 2006. Before that, they hosted and produced most of their own food. They discovered that their biggest expense, aside from the product they produced, was yogurt. So, using a 1970s yogurt maker — which they still keep as a relic in their office — they set about creating recipes.

This interest in selling the yogurt business comes as the couple sold their 225-acre farm to Gus and Kyra Tafel in 2020 for $1.1 million. Klippenstein and Lacinski said owning a farm and a yogurt business is like having two full-time jobs, so they try to focus on making yogurt rather than managing the land and herd.

Environmentally friendly initiatives

As Klippenstein and Lacinski announce this major business decision, they are also preparing to introduce two new environmentally friendly initiatives. Starting in January, they will begin selling 6-ounce portions in recyclable paper cups.

“One thing that worries us is that we’re putting a lot of plastic into the world,” Klippenstein said. “We are putting a black mark against the company.”

Thanks to a $45,000 grant from the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center, they are in the pilot phase of creating reusable stainless steel containers for their 32-ounce yogurts. The system will operate by adding a return deposit for each reusable container.

Klippenstein and Lacinski, along with engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, worked on a life-cycle analysis that determined it takes six to 10 uses for a stainless steel container to be more durable than plastic. They hope to get 50-100 uses per container.

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or [email protected].

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