Tillamook has been a popular household brand since 1909. While known for their great tasting dairy products, their devotion to excellence extends past their product quality and is embedded in their stewardship and sustainability values. Their stewardship charter consists of a commitment to thriving farms, healthful cows, product excellence, sustained natural resources, fulfilled employees, and enriched communities.
These values align with those held by faculty and students within the Center for Sustainable Business Practices (CSBP) at the University of Oregon.
At the beginning of the 2019-2020 academic year, Paul Snyder, Tillamook’s vice president of stewardship, reached out to CSBP director Izabel Loinaz to form a partnership. He developed the Tillamook County Creamery Challenge, a case competition designed specifically for UO’s Net Impact group, aimed at getting students rethinking Tillamook’s brand purpose to make it more impactful for Millennial and Generation Z consumers.
With the consumption of plant-based alternatives rising among these generations challenging the dairy industry, Snyder sought a cohort of students that could think creatively and critically about how to capture these changes in Tillamook’s branding.
Three teams of MBA students from within the graduate chapter of Net Impact—seeing this as the perfect opportunity to apply their specialized knowledge in business, sustainability, and social impact—competed in this case competition and are currently waiting for the results.
The partnership between the University of Oregon and Tillamook is a symbiotic one that addresses the changes occurring in our daily lives.
Tillamook enhances University of Oregon’s hands-on curriculum by allowing both MBA and undergraduate students to participate in the behind-the-scenes discussions pertaining to real-world issues. Tillamook’s transparency allows students to see the cause and effects of change in an industry. Snyder hopes students can take this as an opportunity to recognize change as it’s happening and drive it.
Partnering with a university allows Tillamook to engage with the voices of the future and ensure that their purpose continues to accurately serve consumer demands. Additionally, it gives them access to the pools of talented students being produced by University of Oregon—students whose values are those they see reflected in their brand.
“The richer our interface with institutions like the University of Oregon, the more we reveal the authentic company that we are,” Snyder said. “That will give us a competitive advantage in access to talent, and honestly, access to thought leadership.”
Following the success of the Tillamook County Creamery Challenge, Snyder plans to keep that momentum rolling into the coming years. As Tillamook and the University of Oregon continue to strengthen their partnership, Snyder anticipates frequent collaborations and is excited to see what solutions they are able to come up with next.
—Terri Chrestenson, Class of 2022