BY JON BELL
Above: Heading up a dairy co-op has been a shift for Tillamook CEO Patrick Criteser, who came from Coffee Bean International. "The farmer-owned co-op is not just a marketing tagline," he says. "It's the reality." // Photo by Sierra Breshears
Below: Though much of Tillamook's packaging production was moved to Idaho and Utah last year, the cheese factory still runs a packaging line in Tillamook.
When Patrick Criteser came to the Tillamook County Creamery Association as its new CEO in August, he liked what he saw.
Fresh off an eight-year stint with Portland coffee roaster Coffee Bean International, a company whose sales grew by more than 300% during his tenure, Criteser had been looking for an opportunity to contribute to a solid Oregon company, one with both a long history and a promising future. At Tillamook, that’s just what he found.
“Tillamook has such a long-standing heritage, and I think it really reflects the community where it’s based,” says Criteser, a native Oregonian. “It’s well grounded and genuine and committed to the long view of things. At the same time, there are also some aspirations for growing the company and some opportunities in front of us.”
Established by a handful of small Tillamook Valley creameries in 1909, the TCCA today is a co-op owned by more than 100 dairy farm families. Between its two plants in Tillamook and Boardman, it produces more than 188 million pounds of cheese each year. The Tillamook facility also makes 18,000 gallons of ice cream per day, or 5.6 million gallons a year. In addition, the TCCA works with partners in Oregon to make yogurt and sour cream and with others here and in California for its butter.
Tillamook has an annual revenue of approximately $500 million, and with roughly 600 employees — most of them in Oregon, primarily in Tillamook, but also in Boardman and Tigard — it is one of the area’s largest employers.