Pat Ford, co-founder of the Beehive Cheese Co., came to Weber State University on Thursday to talk to business students about the successes and failures of his business ventures in the Goddard School of Business & Economics.
Ford and his brother-in-law Tim Welsh founded Beehive Cheese in 2005.
Ford said that when they started, they had no clue how to make cheese or manufacture it, but this did not stop them from venturing into the business.
“It’s incredible that they made such a success out of their business,” said Sally Jones, a WSU senior in business administration with a minor in entrepreneurship. “It gives me hope for myself once I graduate.”
Ford and Welsh took an accelerated course in cheesemaking at Utah State University. Ford said they had learned the art of making cheese within a week.
Beehive Cheese is known throughout Utah for its five most popular cheeses: Big John’s, Cajun, TeaHive, Promontory and Barely Buzzed.
“We strive to create fun and creative cheeses,” Ford said. “By using our signature technique of rubbing flavors onto the cheese, which we call rubbing rhine, we could create unique combinations.”
One of the major issues Ford and Welsh encountered when first starting their creamery was finding a supplier for milk. Every dairy farmer had a contract at the time with somebody else. Finally, Wade’s Dairy gave them a chance and drew a contract with them.
“We needed an abundance of milk for our cheesemaking,” Ford said. “To make one pound of cheese, it takes 10 pounds of milk.”
Beehive Cheese’s strategy through all of this was “to grow slow and steady.” Ford and Welsh did not want to have to deal with banks or investors that would expect big payoffs.
“Out of the 15 employees that we hired, all of them are family,” Ford said. “We plan on keeping it that way, too. We want to keep this a family business. I plan to pass it down to my son, who is even better at making cheese than I am.”
Cheese takes time to age and ripen to perfection. A good majority of cheese can take six months to a year to reach its prime, which can be risky, as cash flow is king in any business.
“It’s fun to make something from milk to cheese to something incredible,” said Ford as he closed his lecture. “It’s become my passion in life, and I plan to do it for a while.”