What does a popular pizza chain and a local dairy have in common? A lot more than just cheese. Both are part of a strong partnership that benefits farmers, local franchisees and their communities.
Recently, Jake Fraizer of Dallas, Oregon, was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council for his exemplary contributions to the dairy industry and his local community.
Jake Fraizer has only had one job in his life. “I started delivering pizzas when I was 18, and worked my way up,” he said. Now 17 years later, he’s part owner in a successful Domino’s pizza store in Dallas, Oregon. “I love it,” he said. “I still love delivering. No one is ever mad to see the pizza guy.”
In 2019, Domino’s was named the top pizza chain based on annual sales, but that has not always been the case. In a 2009, in a survey of consumer taste preferences among national pizza chains, Domino’s tied for last place. That same year Domino’s announced plans to entirely reinvent its pizza with a unique ad campaign where consumers were filmed criticizing the pizza quality, and chefs were shown developing a new pizza. The dairy checkoff organization, Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) committed to address this situation with Domino’s because about 25 percent of all U.S. cheese ends up on a pizza.
“During the past ten years, we have invested in partnerships with influential quick service restaurant companies,” said Marilyn Hershey, board member for DMI. “That investment includes providing these partners with consumer insights, product development and nutrition expertise to develop new menu choices that include dairy, and that in turn find new markets for farmer’s milk. “Our four key partners, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut have moved more than 2 billion equivalent pounds of milk in the duration of our work together.”
“Domino’s is one of these partnerships that feels more like family than partner,” said Hershey. “They love our partnership, they love dairy farmers, and they love our cheese.”
“It’s nice for me to let customers know that the cheese is actually from a farm,” said Fraizer. “Everybody thinks all fast food is fake, and it’s not. So that’s a big part of it, especially when it comes to dairy. I’d rather have all of our ingredients locally, like in the US, instead of getting shipped around, so I like the dairy partnerships.”
But this small town Domino’s and a local dairy have more in common than just cheese.
“When we are harvesting the crops, my guys put in long hours. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to offer them a warm meal as a thank you,” said Louie Kazemier, Owner of Rickreall Dairy, located just outside of Dallas, Oregon.
Even though the farm is technically out of Fraizer’s service radius, he will still deliver to Rickreall Dairy. “We deliver out to the dairy a lot,” said Fraizer. “Louie does so much for the community I don’t mind.”
And, Fraizer often goes above and beyond. One year, after a particularly difficult harvest, Fraizer didn’t charge anything for the pizzas. “I’m still not sure if he could see the exhaustion on my face or was just feeling generous, but either way it was really nice,” said Kazemier.
The appreciation is mutual. “He does so much for Christmas Cheer, and the community. And Christmas Cheer means a lot to me,” said Fraizer.
Christmas Cheer, a nonprofit organization in Dallas, feeds families in need over the holidays. Fraizer and his wife joined the board of directors four years ago. “I think every kid should see how lucky they are that they have food,” said Fraizer. “That was ingrained in me, especially by my dad.”
Christmas Cheer does various canned food drives throughout the year, but the perishable items like meat and dairy products, are more difficult to obtain. Kazemier’s donation of ground beef and milk helped to feed 500 families this past Christmas. “Anything perishable like meat or milk or cheese is so expensive that getting a donation is massive,” says Fraizer.
Fraizer’s donation of time and effort is an easy decision. “I grew up in this town, I think it’s kind of selfish if I don’t [give back],” he said. “I also like that it’s local. I know exactly where the money is going”.
Kazemier shares Fraizer’s sentiments on giving back. “I’ve been blessed and I want to bless others,” he said.
Their lives barely ever intersect, except when pizza is delivered, but this dairy farm owner and franchisee partner together to not only make a high quality product for their customers, but also in giving back to their community.