Colteryahn's Dairy

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Colteryahn Dairy is the oldest dairy in Pittsburgh steeped in a long, rich history from the 1870's when the founder, William Colteryahn arrived in Pittsburgh with his family from Hamburg, Germany. At the time the dairy was established in 1893, milk was being received from farmers by train and was distributed over the area in large containers on wagons. Housewives would come to the wagon with their kettles and pans to purchase the milk.

In 1917, William's son, Carl opened the Colteryahn Dairy on its present site on Brownsville Road in Carrick, Pennsylvania. For many years, home delivery was the main business activity. As Divco milk trucks replaced the horse and wagon, the business quickly expanded to selling fresh milk to retail markets while continuing to deliver to homes throughout the area.

In the 1960's, Carl Jr. had the foresight to enter into the convenience store business as the consumer demand for quick trip convenience purchases began. In 1962, through the franchise arrangement with Stop-N-Go Food Stores, the first convenience store was opened on South Park Road in Bethel Park, and remains open today. In 1984, the Stop-N-Go franchise was dropped and the 97 stores were changed to a Colteryahn Dairy franchise operation aptly named Co-Go's. Colteryahn Dairy continues to be he parent company of the successful Co-Go's convenience store chain.

With forward thinking and planning, Carl Jr. and Carl III completed a three year, five million dollar plant and cooler expansion project in 1998. This state-of-the-art facility was featured as the 1998 Plant of the Year by Dairy Foods Magazine in the 2001 issue. This expansion continues to position Colteryahn Dairy as a formidable competitor with any dairy in the Eastern United States. In 2003, because of the Colteryahn families strong commitment to community and expansion, the City of Pittsburgh issued a Proclamation and declared June 20 Colteryahn Dairy Day.

At Colteryahn Dairy, we attribute the success we enjoy today as a result of the hard work and efforts of so many loyal employees and Colteryahn family members throughout our history. Without their efforts, we would not be the oldest dairy remaining in Pittsburgh. The fact that Colteryahn Dairy is the only surviving dairy in Pittsburgh is a testament to the dedication of many and the loyalty of our consumers.

To those loyal friends we offer say Thank You!

Photo of the Wm. Colteryahn and Sons Dairy at 1912 Jane Street, South Side. Carl Colteryahn was one of the sons.

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Colteryahn Vehicle labeled "County Milk Depot" still at 1912 Jane Street

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This Colteryahn Dairy modified truck at Doerr Bros. photo was on Jane Street between 21st and 22nd Streets. You can see the spire of St. Casimer Church in the background.

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Many of the trucks on our roads were, and still are, modified by Doerr Bros. in the South Side. Colteryahn Dairy used them extensively.

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Photo of a truck labeled "Walt"

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Carl Colteryahn's Carrick store at 1614 Brownsville Road

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Photo labeled "Colteryahn Homestead" said to be located where the current St. Basil school is on Concordia Avenue and Craillo Avenue.

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Article dated September 17, 1996, about Colteryahn Dairy of Carrick is the first major assessment of Carrick's Green Neighborhood.

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Article undated titled Colteryahn - The Little Dairy That Could and Did

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Colteryahn in the Tribune Review

Colteryahn family's Carrick dairy owes longevity to diversifying

By Alex Nixon, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, January 3, 2012

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Carl Colteryahn III, here in the cooler of the Colteryahn Dairy in Carrick, is the CEO of the last remaining dairy in Pittsburgh.

Photo Keith Hodan | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Colteryahn Dairy, a 94-year-old business in Carrick, is the last of its kind in the city of Pittsburgh.

The family-owned milk processing company, along with its co-family owned CoGo's chain of convenience stores, has managed to thrive as other regional processors closed or were gobbled up by larger competitors. The future is bright because it has diversified, said Carl Colteryahn III, CEO and grandson of the business' founder.

"I have a lot of the business that the big dairies don't want," Colteryahn said at the dairy plant's offices on Brownsville Road.

The 50-employee company started in 1917 as a bottler of milk, selling it out of a storefront beside the Carrick plant and delivering it to nearby homes. But that world disappeared as refrigeration allowed suppliers to take their milk farther and then as people shifted their milk-buying to grocery stores. And with those changes, the dozens of small dairies that once dotted neighborhoods around Pittsburgh also disappeared.

"It's so competitive that we got out of the street fights," Colteryahn said, referring to battling for shelf space in grocery stores. The company instead shifted its focus to packaging milk, milk products, juice and iced tea for larger chains and producing small batches of specialty milk products for small food companies. For competitive reasons, Colteryahn declined to release production or sales figures for the company.

The Colteryahn family started a convenience store business in 1962 to create a market for the dairy's milk, which the company still purchases directly from a handful of farmers in Westmoreland County. The stores originally were called Stop-N-Go and grew to about 70 retail locations around Pittsburgh.

In 1986, the Colteryahns changed the name to CoGo's, and today the chain has 44 company-owned stores and 13 franchise locations. CoGo's, which is family owned but run as an independent business from the dairy, employs about 475 workers.

Roughly 30 percent of Colteryahn Dairy's revenue come from sales of milk, juice and tea in CoGo's stores, Colteryahn said.

"It's what we all did to survive," he said of the move by dairy processors to open convenience stores.

A few convenience store chains owned by dairies remain in the state, including Rutter's Farm Stores, based in York, and Turkey Hill Dairy stores, based in Conestoga, said John Frey, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Dairy Excellence in Harrisburg.

"The Pittsburgh area is considered one of the most competitive markets in the country" for convenience stores and gas stations because of the large number of chains that operate here, said John Kulik, executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association. The Harrisburg-area association has about 300 member companies in the state.

The Circle K chain of stores said last month that it was expanding in the Pittsburgh market, which already has a heavy presence from Giant Eagle's 73 GetGos, Sunoco's 50 A Plus stores and 68 Sheetz operations in Western Pennsylvania.

To deal with that competition, CoGo's tries to "position ourselves as a neighborhood store," said Dave Heisler, chief operations officer for the chain. "You won't find us on the major highways ... we're in a lot of the small towns in the area."

Heisler declined to release sales or growth figures for CoGo's, but he did say the chain is always on the lookout for new locations to open stores.

The tough economy has depressed milk sales this year, said Earl Fink, executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Association of Milk Dealers.

"Sales of milk is off about 3 percent this year," Fink said. "We notice a decline the last week of the month, which tells me people are just running out of money."

Colteryahn Dairy doesn't just rely on milk sales, said Colteryahn, a mechanical engineer by training who spent his first two years in the business in the early 1990s designing and overseeing a complete modernization of the dairy's production plant.

In addition to the CoGo's sales, the dairy derives about 20 percent of its revenue from the packaging business, Colteryahn said. An additional 15 percent comes from selling soft-serve ice cream mix to amusement park vendors in the summer and small cartons of milk to schools the rest of the year. The remainder is made up of various small accounts such as nursing homes, universities, jails and specialty food makers that buy Colteryahn's milk products.

Colteryahn sees particular potential in producing small batches of high-quality unflavored ice cream for shops that create their own specialty mixes.

"We're small enough to do small unique runs" of ice cream, he said.

The number of dairy processors in the state has dropped dramatically since the 1950s, when the Milk Dealers Association had about 300 member companies, Fink said. Today it has about 30.

But the companies that survive are doing well by exploiting niche markets and emphasizing their local brands, he said.

"It seems to work throughout the state," he said. "People buy from them because they're local."

Frey, of the Center for Dairy Excellence, agreed that small dairy operations across the state are benefiting from a resurgent interest in buying local food. And despite the drop in the number of dairies, Pennsylvania has more than many other states.

"Today's consumer is becoming increasingly interested in where their food is produced," Frey said. "We're pretty fortunate to have the strength of the processing industry we have here."

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Machine operator Chuck DiNofrio inspects the half-pint milk containers in the bottling room of the Colteryahn Dairy in Carrick.

Photo Keith Hodan | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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Plant employees Jonathan Stanton (left) and Shawn Dawson work among the pasteurized product tanks inside the Colteryahn Dairy in Carrick.

Photo Keith Hodan | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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Plant manager Devon Pachete inspects milk gallons in the bottling room of the Colteryahn Dairy in Carrick.

Photo Keith Hodan | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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Plant manager Devon Pachete watches the process in the bottling room of the Colteryahn Dairy in Carrick.

Photo Mike Love | Gateway Newspapers

Colteryahn and CoGo's

What: Family-owned milk processor and convenience store chain

Where: Carrick 1601 Brownsville Rd Pittsburgh, PA 15210

Operations: Dairy plant in Carrick, 57 CoGo's stores in Western Pennsylvania.

Founded: Dairy was founded in 1917; CoGo's in 1962.

Employees: 50 at the dairy; about 475 at CoGo's.

Annual sales: Did not disclose.


• Carl Colteryahn III, dairy CEO

• Dan Ennis, dairy controller

• Dave Heisler, CoGo's chief operations officer

Read more: Colteryahn family's Carrick dairy owes longevity to diversifying - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Colteryahn Dairy diversifies to survive

Justine Coyne Reporter- Pittsburgh Business Times

Flipping through a record of all of the dairies that were once located in Pennsylvania, Carl Colteryahn III tells me that dairies used to be everywhere.

"Back then, with no refrigeration, you could only deliver as far as the horse could take the milk before it got too warm," Colteryahn, the fourth-generation president of Colteryahn Dairy, said. There were about 2,000 in Allegheny County over the years. Today, Colteryahn Dairy is one of only three. Colteryahn Dairy is the oldest dairy in Pittsburgh, founded in 1893. Colteryahn thinks what sets his family dairy apart has been their foresight.

In the early '60s, Colteryahn's father, Carl Jr., got into the convenience store business, setting up the Pittsburgh Stop N Go franchise. In 1984, when the franchise was dropped, the business had grown to 97 stores that were changed to a Colteryahn Dairy franchise; the aptly named Co-Go's.

"The dairy business is very competitive in Pittsburgh," Colteryahn said at the family's Carrick facility, which has been at its current location on Brownsville Road since 1917. "Five years ago, at any given day, one of seven different dairies could show up at your doorstep. So we decided to get out of the street fights and evaluate other markets we could serve," Colteryahn said. The company moved into contract packaging, using its experience to process and package products for clients that don't have the resources to do so on their own.

"For example, if a small shop wanted to make their own ice cream, they would have to receive the raw milk, separate the cream from the skim, blend those back together to get butter fat, have an outlet to sell the excess cream and skim they don't need, and pasteurize the product," Colteryahn said. "This isn't practical or cost-efficient for a small operation." Instead, shop owners can get a 300-gallon tote of hard ice cream mix delivered from Colteryahn that they can flavor and freeze. They also serve larger dairies as the small size of the dairy allows them to do smaller product runs that aren't economical to produce at larger facilities.

Additionally the dairy has started producing neutraceuticals, probiotics, all-natural and organic products, energy drinks and shaved ice syrups, in addition to its standard dairy line of milk, juice and iced teas. Today they bottle under 11 different names and have distribution in seven states.

"We're a survivor," Colteryahn said. "We are changing with the times, adapting and surviving."

Justine Coyne covers manufacturing and higher education.

Other photos of Colteryahn Dairies

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