THE MODERN MILKMAN BRINGS BACK FRESH DAIRY DELIVERIES
DFA family farm-owner Seth Bahler saw an opportunity to deliver his farm’s fresh milk to consumers through its own private label and founded The Modern Milkman in 2019. With the launch of the delivery company, Seth, chief executive officer of The Modern Milkman and Oakridge Dairy, his farm in Ellington, Conn., brought back the nostalgic experience of receiving deliveries of fresh milk in glass bottles straight to consumers’ doors.
The company had humble beginnings — one employee would bottle the pasteurized milk from Seth’s dairy farm, and then deliver that milk to customers. And it all came about because of requests from locals.
“People kept asking how they could buy our milk, and all of our milk went to a plant locally,” Seth says. “We said ‘Let’s get some milk in our own label.’ And looking into how people are buying, everyone is buying online. Online ordering is the future, and delivery is the future, so let’s just bring a blast from the past and put a modern twist on it.”
As a DFA family farm-owner, the milk from Seth’s farm goes to our Guida’s Dairy plant in New Britain, Conn. However, Seth buys back a small portion of his production to process for bottling for deliveries through The Modern Milkman.
Since founding The Modern Milkman, the company has grown. During the COVID-19 lockdowns in March 2020, The Modern Milkman gained 100 customers every day for several weeks — going from 300 customers to 3,000 customers in two months. This growth inspired Seth to partner with other local businesses that provide fresh, high-quality products. The Modern Milkman now offers eggs, butter, cheese, breads and cookies all sourced from local vendors.
Customers can utilize the online subscription service through The Modern Milkman website, modernmilkman.com, where they can sign up to receive weekly deliveries with servings for a family of four, six or eight. By designing The Modern Milkman as a subscription service, Seth helped solve a problem in his community that he’s passionate about: food waste.
“When we first built [the business], we realized that a lot of people will not need a delivery every week, but we wanted that consistency,” Seth says. “We wanted people to get it every week, but we wanted them to be able to pause it, or if they were feeling generous, they could donate it. It helps us with our inventory as a farm, but it also provides an opportunity to donate to a local food pantry. We’ve donated thousands of pounds of dairy products to local food pantries — they love it because they are getting fresh, higher quality local products each week. About 50 people each week donate their deliveries.”
Seth hopes to expand The Modern Milkman in the coming years. The company entered into a licensing agreement with a farm in Ohio, and Seth says he’s willing to continue licensing his subscription service to more farms and branch out into new areas of the country. The Modern Milkman might start offering a wider range of fresh, local products, too, including meat.
The Modern Milkman participated in DFA’s 2021 CoLAB Accelerator, our 90-day program to help accelerate and grow startup businesses in the dairy sector. The 2021 class included seven participating companies.
“We got to be in a group of startups getting some great feedback and advice on how to position our business better for the future from some very smart people,” Seth says. He also enjoyed meeting and learning from employees within DFA and our regional brands.