July 03–After six decades in operation, hauling milk is more than just a business — it’s a way of life for the Mitchell family of Saegertown.
Mitchell Trucking, recipient of the 2017 Crawford County Ag-Industry Award, was started in 1958 by Loren (Pete) Mitchell and his son, Lonnie Mitchell. Today, Mitchell Trucking is in its third generation with brothers Greg Mitchell, 54, and Mike Mitchell, 50, as the owners. The two are grandsons of Pete Mitchell and sons of Lonnie Mitchell.
Mitchell Trucking remains a family-oriented operation with Mike’s wife, Michele, managing the company’s books. Monica Mitchell, the brothers’ mother, who was instrumental in the growth and success of the business throughout the years, is still involved, too.
“She’s about 75 and still active,” Greg said. “She goes after a part we need (to repair a truck) or do anything we need.”
The brothers said they are humbled at having the company receiving recognition from Crawford County’s farming community. They’ll receive an award that’s administered by the Crawford County Pomona Grange during an open program at 2 p.m. Aug. 21 at the county fair’s Youth Show Arena. Recipients are selected by agricultural organizations and previous Hall of Fame inductees.
“We just do what we do,” Greg Mitchell said. “I never thought we’d receive an award.”
Both men said they enjoy interacting with the region’s farming community.
“I like the fact we’re helping farmers,” Mike said. “I like talking to them and driving the truck around the countryside.”
“They’re all good people,” Greg said. “I like it because we’re helping farmers get their milk to market, but it is a big responsibility.”
Mitchell Trucking got its start when Pete and Lonnie began hauling large cans of milk from their Spring Terrace Farm near Saegertown as well as other area farms to the Erie-Crawford Cooperative in Saegertown. The Erie-Crawford Cooperative marketed milk for processing to dairies in western Pennsylvania, but in 1969 the cooperative stopped marketing milk as the number of dairies began to shrink.
The Mitchells then switched the firm’s focus to hauling bulk milk to dairy processors mainly in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. By 1990, Mitchell Trucking was hauling for more than 200 farms. At one time, the company even hauled area goat milk for processing to Vermont Butter & Cheese Co., now known as Vermont Creamery, in Barre, Vt.
Today, Mitchell trucks transport raw milk for about 80 dairy farms in the region. While it’s a much smaller number than about 25 years ago, there’s not been a significant loss in total volume as milk production has increased while the total number of farms has decreased.
Each of the farms stores milk at 39 degrees Fahrenheit, or colder, for no more than 48 hours before it’s picked up to be trucked to a processor.
With eight trucks in its fleet, Mitchell’s has six of them on the road each day, 365 days a year, with two in reserve in case of a breakdown. Depending on the size of the dairy farm, a Mitchell truck arrives every day or every other day for a pickup. The milk then usually ends up at one of three processors — Dean Dairy Foods in Sharpsville, Dairy Farmers of America in New Wilmington or Middlefield Original Cheese Co. in Middlefield, Ohio.
Having grown up in the business, both Greg and Mike, said working every day is just part of their daily routine.
“I’ve never really thought of it as a job,” Greg said. “The milk’s got to go every day.”
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agricultural organizations and previous recipients of the Crawford County Agricultural Hall of Fame and Ag-Industry awards have selected the 2017 recipients of the awards. Nominations are solicited from interested ag-related organizations and businesses as well as former recipients of the awards. Each organization or individual may submit two nominees for Hall of Fame, which may include those who have retired from farming, are currently involved in farming, or from the service industry or organization. One ag-industry nomination may also be submitted.
2017 AWARD WINNERS
SUNDAY: Jeff and Janet Peters
TODAY: Mitchell Milk Hauling
TUESDAY: Robert J. and Christine Waddell
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