Born and grazed in the pastoral hills of Petaluma, California, the Clover brand has been an integral part of the North Bay agriculture community since 1916. As we celebrate our moonumental centennial anniversary we reflect on our history and the core values that have made Clover a leader in the dairy industry: Quality, Family, and Integrity.
Clover’s story begins three generations ago with our beloved founder Gene M. Benedetti—a Sonoma County native, college football star, and decorated WWII veteran who started working in the local dairy business as a salesman for the Petaluma Cooperative Creamery. The PCC had been distributing Clover brand dairy products in the surrounding counties since 1916, and Clover was already a staple in nearly every household.
When a devastating fire destroyed the Creamery in 1975, and its board of directors decided not to rebuild, Gene took matters into his own hands. Together with then business partner Al Stornetta he established the new Clover Stornetta Farms processing plant in 1977. For the next nine years, Gene remained at the helm of the company where he continued to build the Clover brand and its ideals. He firmly believed that every business and every person should give back to the community. Following his example, Clover has continued to generously support local events and causes to this day.
When the company needed a mascot, it was Gene who dreamed up the endearing image of Clo the Cow and launched Clover’s wildly successful billboard campaign. Through the years Clo’s toothy grin and witty cow puns cemented her as our iconic “moo-lebrity,” and her image still resonates with fans of all ages.
In 1986, Gene passed the baton to his son, Dan Benedetti, who continued his father’s quest to make Clover a model of excellence in the dairy industry.
Under Dan’s watch, Clover’s business ethics were put to the test in 1994 when representatives from Monsanto came knocking at the company’s door. They were touting a newly developed “wonder drug” called rBST that artificially stimulated milk production in dairy cows. Monsanto tried to persuade Dan that the synthetic growth hormone would “increase profits and revolutionize the dairy industry but appear seamless to the consumer.”
Though many other dairy companies jumped on board, Dan turned them down flat.
He believed then, as we still do today, that Clover will never compromise the health of our cows or consumer trust in our dairy products. That commitment to integrity made Clover the first dairy company west of the Mississippi to offer milk certified free of the growth hormone rBST.
And we didn’t stop there.
That same year, Clover developed the North Coast Excellence Certification (NCEC) program which established rigorous animal welfare and sustainability guidelines for our family owned dairy partners.
NCEC stipulates that our cows are never treated with the growth hormone rBST, never cloned, and are cared for under the American Humane Certified animal welfare program. In fact, Clover is proud to be the first dairy in the U.S. to be American Humane Certified. In addition, our dairymen must also demonstrate best practices for environmental stewardship of their land and resources.
In 2006, Dan turned over the company reins to his son, current Clover President & CEO Marcus Benedetti, who continues to build brand recognition, grow the product line, and reach into new markets.
For his part, Marcus is determined that his generation, and those that follow, will continue to improve upon the company’s blueprint for green business and sustainable farming. “We are striving to reconnect the American dairy farmer to the consumer in a positive way,” says Marcus. “We’re telling a different story by being transparent and showing people where their milk comes from.”
Clover’s success also owes a debt of gratitude to its loyal customers. “We know you have a choice, and we appreciate that you choose Clover dairy products for your family,” says Marcus. “From the bottom of our hearts we thank you for your continued faith and support!”