Our trilogy of stories on the Schulz family dairy farmers reaches its natural conclusion with this piece, that is of course until the next generation takes over! This time around we are featuring the third Schulz to build his name and livelihood from dairy, Simon.
In previous editions we’ve recounted Hermann’s move into cheesemaking with the Timboon Farmhouse Cheese brand as well as Michael’s 30+ years of commitment to top-quality milk. Now we bring you into the modern day and the current Schulz family business, Schulz Organic Dairy.
Simon will grimace when we say this, but the best way to describe him is as an innovator. He began developing his vision for Schulz Organic Dairy from a young age, and has been refining his products and brand ever since. Simon believes that farms are the perfect place for young entrepreneurs to add value to the primary product and offer something unique.
In Simon’s case, the plan was simple: Schulz Organic would produce ‘real’ dairy that’s as close to fresh-from-the-cow as you can buy. The original products; Raw or ‘Bath’ milk, natural whey, traditional yoghurt and Quark (Hermann’s original recipe).
Schulz Organic Dairy was launched in November 2005, when Simon was just 21. A truckload of youthful enthusiasm in tow, Simon brought with him the knowledge gained from a stint consulting in a Melbourne yogurt factory with Grandfather Hermann. By September 2006 the first range of branded products were available for sale.
Simon credits the Melbourne Farmers Markets and Victorian Farmers Markets Association movements for providing the platform to sell to consumers. The Schulz Organic range was a hit with farmers market regulars with many shocked to taste ‘milk that tastes like it used to’. From there, Simon gradually built up a dedicated network of local stockists whose focus was on independent retailers supporting local and quality products.
Melbourne-based Passion Foods, Curds & Whey as well as Richie’s IGA in Timboon were the first larger retailers to embrace the range. Leading the charge for Melbourne cafes, Market Lane Coffee’s taste for the Timboon ‘liquid gold’ milk heralded the inevitable implementation of pasteurisation.
By 2009; with milk, quark, yogurt and a couple of others in play; Simon was still the sole employee of Schulz Organic Dairy. Bottling, processing, deliveries, farmers markets… You name it, Simon did it! Something had to give and it turned out it was Simon’s back. Bedridden and mentally drained, it was time to do things a little differently. The demand was there, the customers couldn’t get enough; it was time to scale up.
2010 saw a ramp up in staff and facilities propelled the business into the next phase. Of particular pride for Simon was now having the ability to hire some of the local Timboon Farmhouse Cheese staff that had been left jobless when the the company that Hermann sold to had shut it down in 2008. Since that about turn Schulz Organic Dairy has gone from strength to strength, now employing nearly 40 staff and supplying over 200 trade customers throughout Australia.
Expanding has helped Simon to keep a broader eye on things, and he attributes Schulz’ three consecutive Gold Medals since 2015 in the Delicious Produce Awards ‘From the Dairy” category not only to their commitment to quality over quantity but also as proof that their vision is actualising.
Getting Schulz Organic Dairy products into fridges and coffee cups in NSW is the next big project in terms of distribution and there some exciting product developments in the works. Sustainability is a big part of the Schulz DNA and Simon is proud to be expanding their plastic free range on the back of their success with refillable 15L stainless steel milk cans in the commercial arena. In October, Schulz will be piloting a returnable and refillable glass bottle milk option for farmers market customers, taking the milk industry one step closer to minimising single use plastics.
Business isn’t the only thing that’s growing! Simon, wife Abbey and their children Elise (3) and Thomas (2) are keenly awaiting the arrival of the newest Schulz in October! We can’t wait to meet them and see what else October holds!