HAWLEY – The founders and owners of Sidehill Farm, said to be the only commercial yogurt producer in Massachusetts, are looking to sell to someone with the energy and vision to expand the business.
Since 2006, Amy Klippenstein and Paul Lasinski have been building a $1 million-a-year yogurt business with stores in Massachusetts and neighboring states.
“Business is really good. There’s a lot of demand for yogurt,” Klippenstein said. “There’s a lot of potential.”
Still, the couple feels someone else can take this successful business to the next level.
“A person with more energy, more vision, can do better at the company,” said Klippenstein.
Klippenstein and Lasinski said they don’t have the energy to expand the business and feel it’s unfair to let the company go offshore.
“We are doing more as employees,” Lasinski said, explaining that they spend more time having fun than developing new products and expanding into new markets.
“For the business to continue to be successful going forward, it needs someone to deliver, and that’s not us,” Klippenstein said.
Some possible expansions include reaching larger markets in other states or diversifying the production base. Klippenstein and Lasinski say consumers have asked for more products like fruit-flavored yogurt, kefir and cottage cheese.
The couple hopes to sell the business for $750,000, most of which will be spent on stainless steel equipment and trucks. They’re willing to wait as long as it takes to find the right buyer, and they’re looking for someone who believes in their mission and is willing to honor their contract – Sidehill Farm has a contract to buy milk from Gus and Kira Taffle of Meadowsweet Farm. until 2027 – and will allow the five current employees to continue working with Sidehill Farm if they choose. Klippenstein and Lasinski say decency – one of the company’s values - is very important in the new owner.
Lasinski may decide that a loyal customer wants to know if Sidehill Farm is for sale, take a stab at making yogurt, and buy the company.
Lasinski and Klippenstein said they have no plans for the future after the sale, saying they need to “clean their plates” before starting their next venture. He explained that he is not retired, and expects to have 15 more years in his career.
“We’re both at a point in life where we’ve built this from nothing,” Klippenstein said. “It was our passion and our dream. It felt like something we had to do.”
The two felt the call to start a yogurt business in 2006. Before that, they grew most of their own food and lived as housewives. They discovered that their biggest expense outside of their produce was yogurt. So, using a 1970s yogurt maker—which they still keep in their office as an heirloom—they began creating recipes.
This desire to sell the yogurt business came about when the couple sold their 225-acre farm to Gus and Kira Tafel in 2020 for $1.1 million. Klippenstein and Lasinski say owning a farm and yogurt business is like having two full-time jobs, and they want to focus on yogurt production rather than land and herd management.
While announcing this major business decision, Klippenstein and Lasinski are also preparing to roll out two new environmentally friendly activities. Starting in January, they will begin selling 6-ounce portions in paper cups that can be reused.
“One thing we worry about is putting more plastics into the world,” Klippenstein said. “We are putting a black mark on the company.”
Thanks to a $45,000 grant from the Northeast Dairy Innovation Center, they are in the pilot phase of creating reusable stainless steel containers for their 32-ounce yogurts. The system works by adding a refund for each reusable container.
Klippenstein and Lasinski worked on a life-cycle analysis by engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to find that six to 10 stainless steel containers would need to be used for a stainless steel container to last longer than plastic. They hope to get 50 to 100 uses out of each container.
Bella Blevavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or [email protected].