America’s oldest family-owned creamery, Minerva Dairy, is grateful to have a month dedicated to women’s accomplishments because their history is rich with strong, successful women. At 128 years old, Minerva women have learned from the generation before them for decades. I’m honored to introduce two of the most pivotal women in Minerva Dairy’s history who have shaped it into the successful company that it is today.
Meet Lorraine Radloff Mueller, our third-generation owner. (More photos available upon request)
After inheriting Minerva Dairy from her grandfather, Lorraine and her husband, Delbert L. Mueller, moved to Minerva, Ohio, in 1939. When they arrived, Lorraine was surprised by the facility’s disrepair, as it was completely dilapidated. However, she managed to bring the facility back to tip-top shape while simultaneously ensuring that the city of Minerva benefited from their presence. Even more impressive: she did this while not being a native English speaker and during a contentious time in world history.
In a time prior to World War II, speaking in German was extremely unpopular in America. Raised in a German-speaking area of Wisconsin, Lorraine and Delbert did not speak any English but knew that they had to learn how to speak English quickly to ensure acceptance from their community. So, they did just that. To further engage themselves into the community, they donated the lands surrounding the cheese and butter facility to the city for a park.
Lorraine’s tenure at Minerva was a hectic and stressful time for both the company and in history. During World War II, dairy products were rations, and Minerva was always packed with people awaiting their quota for the week. At this time, Minerva bottled milk, made ice cream, and produced cheese and butter. Even during tumultuous times, Lorraine helped shape a generation of better butter fans with the highest-quality product. The success of America’s Family Oldest Family Owned Creamery stems back to Lorraine’s hard work and dedication.
Get to know Venae Watts, 5th Generation Co-Owner.
Today, Minerva operates under the co-lead of Venae Watts. Specifically, Venae serves as the Secretary and Treasurer of the company. As a co-owner, Venae secured a position in the company at a young age, following her father’s (fourth-generation owner) footsteps. Butter making is core to who she is, and from childhood, she was taught that family and butter come first. Venae grew up surrounded by butter, so much so, her memories of opening Christmas gifts are in the dairy while her father unloaded milk trucks.
Today, Minerva Dairy is a leading butter company, serving consumers nationwide. With decades of working within the family business, she has played a pivotal role in leading the sales team to continued success and growth while simultaneously helping to navigate Minerva Dairy through the ever-changing food industry.
Under Venae’s direction, the brand celebrated their 125th anniversary with the rebranding of our products. With a new logo and packaging, Venae made sure our new look was eye-catching and emphasized stylized retro graphics and a modern character so that Minerva products are easily spotted on the grocery store shelves.
After 128 years of bold and butter-obsessed women, they’re looking forward to celebrating the next generations to come.