Vice President, Commercial Lending, Peoria
NMLS # 896008
The question came to Dan O’Brien’s one morning as he was giving his newborn son, Edward, a bottle: What ever happened to the milk delivery services popular in decades past?
O’Brien had been thinking about starting a side business since he was very young, and he was intrigued by the items that people seem to consume every day. As he began to feel less satisfied in his day job, he was also contemplating what kind of work created a “happy job.”
“These two things made me think about the milk business: 90% or more of people drink milk, and it is a happy job, associated with the nostalgia of the past,” O’Brien said. “There was a smiling face of the milkman, who left families a little present of milk products on their doorstep. It was simple service: people liked it; it fulfilled a daily need and also provided a convenience for millions of people. Why did it fail?”
In-depth research led O’Brien to discover that dairy delivery died off in households due to increased gas and refrigeration costs, which occurred as big box stores increased in popularity. For O’Brien now, however, those big box stores are losing appeal. And that is what sparked him to open his new business: Merry Milk.
O’Brien has two locations in Peoria where he receives wholesale deliveries of Prairie Farms products, which are then packaged and delivered to residences. Merry Milk drivers deliver items such as milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese and juice in full uniform, complete with bow tie and cap.
O’Brien found it is annoying to walk to the back of a large box store just to buy one gallon of milk. “Without fail, you will also walk out with five other things that you didn’t need,” O’Brien said. “I would welcome the service of delivery, a time-saving convenience. Millions of Americans are currently doing this with … online stores.”
With O’Brien’s new business model, he has revived a long-standing market by simply eliminating the factors that originally caused it to fail. Merry Milk delivery, found at merrymilkdelivery.com, distributes its products with electric cars using gel cooler bags that offer 8 to 10 hours of cooling time. Merry Milk has applied for a method patent using this new model.
INB is proud to be a small part of this unique start-up company that’s reproducing the dairy product delivery concept in the greater Peoria area. By using a modern-day business model, I see them delivering Prairie Farms products conveniently to many doorsteps.
O’Brian told me that, depending on demand, a third location in Peoria will open in the coming months.
“The core idea of my model is to provide delivered dairy products at the same price that you would pay as the local grocery store. If the price is equal and the product is the same, then I think most people will choose the convenience of my service.”