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Caputo Brothers Creamery

Caputo Brothers Creamery

2019 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest Bronze Prize Winner

2019 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest Bronze Prize Winner

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A couple bringing the authentic taste of Italy to Americans

Possessed with a love for all things Italian, husband and wife David and Rynn Caputo are on a mission to bring Americans the authentic taste of Italy through their meticulously crafted cheeses, farm-to-table dinners, and culinary tours of Italy. At the heart of the Caputo Brothers Creamery business, affectionately named for their sons, Giovanni and Matteo, are handcrafted, authentic Italian cheeses like mozzarella, which they make through a traditional Italian-style fermentation process. David and Rynn's passion for Italian foods is matched only by their passion for their American dairy farmer partners, who they are striving to help survive in today’s industrialized food market.

In addition to diversifying your business, how have you managed risk?

Rynn: Dave and I both grew up around family members who had their own businesses, so we saw firsthand what it took to be an entrepreneur — not being afraid to fail. But, if you had asked me if I was a risk-taker prior to starting the business, I would have said absolutely not. And Dave even less so. But the longer we have stayed in business, the more open-minded we have become to taking the risks that are necessary to grow the business.

More than anything, we knew that if we worked hard and remained committed to our values, we could make a go at this. I think that is what it’s about, using your strengths and what grounds you to help navigate tough decisions. That said, even though we weren’t fully prepared to run a business, we knew we wanted a family business so we could be with our kids, and we knew we’d have to figure things out as we moved forward.

 

How have you used your business to effect change in your industry?

Rynn: Once we got involved in the economics of the dairy business, we realized that a lot was being done at the expense of dairy farmers. We saw an important American industry in decline, and this fueled our passion to help. In addition to trying to get the word out about this, we only use Animal Welfare Approved, non-GMO feed, pasture-based milk from local, family-owned dairy farms. We also prioritize supporting local dairies and creameries and are committed to paying a fair price to farmers for the high-quality milk they produce.

We also encourage our customers to seek out shops that support local cheesemakers, yogurt makers, and milk producers in addition to doing a better job of educating themselves on the difference between what is marketing and what is real. People love our cheese, but when we start talking to them about dairy products, it’s clear that most people know very little about milk.

With funding from the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest, we’re hoping to continue to support and save at least two more dairy farms this year that are really struggling.

 

3 Small-Business Tips for Success

Navigating the path for your small business is a constant learning process. Here are the Caputo’s tips for success.

  1. Overbudget for Expenditures
    Rynn and Dave always allot more money for a project than they think they’ll need. Although this can make budgets tight at times, they’ve found that it’s always better to give yourself wiggle room on the front end.

  2. Find a Mentor
    Having a mentor who has walked in their shoes and isn’t afraid to challenge their ideas has been critical to the success of Caputo Brothers Creamery. Rynn recommends utilizing a mentor weekly and being totally honest about highs and lows with that mentor.

  3. Risks Bring Rewards
    Rynn and Dave embrace the motto “with big risks come big rewards” and believe that even when risk-taking doesn’t pan out completely, there are always important lessons learned. They’ve also found that with good decision-making and problem-solving skills, risks can be managed.

 

FedEx Small Business Grant winners like Rynn and Dave are doing creative and exciting things in their businesses. See more inspirational winner stories and get insights for business success from past grant winners, plus other entrepreneurs and small-business experts.