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Entries : Dean Milk Co.
Dean Milk Co.

Dean Milk Co.

Sam Dean, an evaporated milk dealer who sold to Chicago-area customers, founded the Dean Evaporated Milk Co. in Pecatonica, Illinois (west of Rockford), in 1925. During the 1930s, Dean began to sell fresh dairy products, including fluid milk; it entered the ice cream business in 1947. During the 1950s and 1960s, Dean's business—now based in the Chicago suburb of Franklin Park and named the Dean Milk Co.—expanded by buying smaller dairy companies. By 1961, when it began to sell stock to the public, it employed about 1,300 people and did over $60 million in annual sales. Five years later, Dean doubled in size by purchasing the Bowman Dairy Co., another large Chicago-area food company. By 1985, when the company's annual sales hit $1 billion, it sold pickles and other foods, but dairy products still accounted for about two-thirds of its business. During the 1990s, with many dairy facilities around the Midwest, Dean became the largest milk processor in the United States, as well as diversifying to buy such brands as Birds Eye. By the end of the century, Dean had reached nearly $4 billion and annual sales, but only a few hundred of the company's some 14,000 employees worldwide were based in the Chicago area. In December 2001, Dean Foods was purchased by the Suiza Foods Corp., a rival company based in Dallas, Texas, which took the Dean name. See also Bowman Dairy Co.