Braum’s commitment to excellence began that way---and is here to stay
Braum's Dairy is an icon of which people in the southern region of the United States are very familiar. It's impeccable reputation is based on the core values of founders Bill and Mary Braum and their children, leading them on a life-long journey from the early 1930s to its outstanding success today. The Braum family can attribute their success to a firm belief, "if you want something done right, you do it yourself." And that's how it began.
Historically, it was in 1933 when Henry H. Braum, Bill's father, leased a converted house he turned into a small butter processing plant in their hometown of Emporia, Kansas.
Growing up, Bill worked closely with his father, learning every aspect of the family business. Soon Henry moved production to a newly built facility, adding milk processing and in 1940 added ice cream processing.
In 1945, Bill enrolled at the University of Kansas, with his sights first set on engineering. But, this soon turned to business, earning a degree in business administration and he returned home to become active in the family operation. His sister introduced him to Mary, his future wife.
Specializing in milk & ice cream
In 1952, Bill and his father sold the wholesale part of the business and bought an old Kraft Cheese Factory they remodeled into an ice cream and processing plant. They began specializing in milk and ice cream, developing a chain of ice cream stores in Kansas called “Peter Pan Ice Cream,” named after a local park in Emporia. This specialty chain of ice cream stores would eventually define the future of the Braum family.
Bill buys company
In 1961, Bill bought the company from his father Henry and purchased his first dairy farm in Emporia. In 1967, Bill grew the ice cream chain to 61 stores, increasing the business tenfold. He sold the “Peter Pan” retail stores to a large wholesaler. However, this sale did not include the Braum Dairy herd and processing plant and as a condition of the sale, they were not allowed to sell ice cream in Kansas for 10 years.
In 1968, Bill and his wife, Mary, unveiled the first Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Store in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, instilling an integral relationship with the state that is notably intact and still growing today.
Open stores in Oklahoma
That year, twenty-three more stores opened throughout Oklahoma. Because the Braum's Dairy herd and processing plant were still located in Emporia, for three years all ice cream, dairy products and other supplies had to be transported daily from Kansas to Oklahoma.
Herd moved from Kansas
In 1971, a new 60,000 square-foot processing plant was built in Oklahoma City and in 1975, the Braum’s dairy herd, the largest dairy herd in Kansas, finally moved to Oklahoma. This “modern-day cattle drive” was a large procession of more than 900 cows traveling down the highway in a convoy of semi-trucks to their new home at the Braum Farm in Tuttle, Oklahoma.
Braum’s Bakery built
In 1978, the original bakery was built next to the processing plant in Oklahoma City, producing an assortment of fresh bakery items available in the Braum’s stores.
By 1983, Bill and Mary bought several farms in southeastern Oklahoma with each of them playing a unique role in the Braum operation. Each farm supplied everything from growing feed for the large dairy herd to raising new generations of calves.
Processing plant built at Tuttle
By the late 1980s, there was an evident need for a larger processing plant. In 1987, a new 260,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art processing plant was built on the Braum Farm in Tuttle. The original processing plant in Oklahoma City became the site for Braum’s corporate offices.
In 1988, Bill made his way into Texas, purchasing a farm located on the border of Follett, Texas and Shattuck, Oklahoma. It was primarily used for growing alfalfa hay to feed the large dairy herd. Over the years, this farm has grown to 24,000 acres, about 38 square miles.
One of largest in the world
As the 1990s took shape, Braum’s Dairy was gaining notoriety and touted as one of the largest milking operations of its kind in the world. In 1993, a new operation was built on the Tuttle Farm, consisting of a milk barn, 17 free stall barns and covering 35 acres to house Braum’s private dairy herd.
Braum’s construction builds a milking complex on the Follettt Farm in 2002. Although not near as big as the milking operation in Tuttle, the private Follett dairy herd provides thousands of gallons of fresh, raw milk every day. This milk it shipped from Follett to the processing plant in Tuttle. Calves born and raised on the Follett Farm will eventually become a part of the milking herd while all bull calves from both Tuttle and Follett are raised here also.
In 2008, three thousand calf hutches and pens are installed to accommodate the replacement heifers on the Tuttle Farm. These heifers will eventually become part of the milking herd.
New bakery built at Tuttle
A new 240,000 square foot bakery and warehouse distribution facility adjacent to the processing plant on the Tuttle Farm was built in 2010. Bill innovatively designs and builds a “cow trolley” to transport the dairy herd to and from the milk barn. This eliminates the long walk for his cows several times a day while improving their overall cow comfort.
Today, the Braum family owns and operates nearly 300 stores found in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. The stores are located within a 300-mile radius from the Braum’s processing plant. Their fleet of delivery trucks are on the road seven days a week delivering fresh products to each store every other day.
Bill is today’s pioneer
Bill is a pioneer in vertical integration, overseeing every aspect of the operation from farming to manufacturing to retailing. His devotion to quality has been the foundation of the steps taken at Braum’s and dedicated to offering the very best to its customers. The Braum family overall commitment to excellence will continue for years to come.
“There’s a lot that goes into making quality products...hard work dedication and attention to every detail,” Bill said. “This may not be the easiest way, but to our family, it’s the only way. We think it’s worth it. We hope you do too.”