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Hillis leads Purity Dairies to top recognition

Posted on Monday, May 20, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Hillis Honored

(From left) Daryl Gaw, quality manager at Purity Dairies in Nashville, and Rodney Hillis, plant manager, accepts the Dean Foods CEO Quality Award for fluid milk from Gregg Tanner, Dean Foods’ CEO.

For its excellence in customer service and protecting quality from farm to table, Nashville-based Purity Dairies is the first recipient of the Dean Foods CEO Quality Award for fluid milk. This award is the company’s top honor and Purity Dairies was selected over Dean Foods’ 70 other dairies after a rigorous, one-year judging process.

The award was presented to Rodney Hillis, who grew up in Lincoln County and works plant manager of Purity Dairies, at Purity’s Murfreesboro Road headquarters on April 16 by Dean Foods CEO, Gregg Tanner. Hillis attended Flintville Elementary and Middle School, and went on to graduate from Lincoln County High School.

Tanner, whose visit to Purity Dairies is his first since taking the CEO post in late 2012, was joined by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam in acknowledging Purity Dairies’ far reaching excellence.

“Dean Foods holds its plants to incredibly high standards, making for particularly stiff competition surrounding this award,” said Tanner. “We are delighted with the level of excellence Purity Dairies brought with it when it joined Dean Foods and we’re proud to hold them up as an example.”

Haslam spoke of Purity Dairies’ award winning products and the company’s decades of commitment to Nashville and the other communities it serves. A House resolution sponsored by Speaker Beth Harwell detailed similar successes.

“Since Purity Dairies was founded, it has put the utmost emphasis on the quality of its products – a legacy its leaders and all Purity Dairies employees work hard to uphold every day,” said Hillis. “It is because of this commitment that we are so honored to be recognized as Dean Foods’ top fluid milk plant and by this House resolution.”

In 1998, Purity Dairies joined Dean Foods, the nation’s leading processor and distributor of milk products. Of the roughly 400 dairy plants in the U.S., Dean Foods operates 70, representing many of the most successful operations in the industry. In 2012, Dean Foods launched the Quality Award Program to recognize its best run dairy plants.

This top honor is the culmination of an intensive assessment process. Three ice cream plants and five fluid milk plants, including Purity Dairies, were selected as Excellence in Quality Award winners based on six criteria such as Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program scores, training participation and consumer complaint improvement.

These eight plants were then scrutinized further by senior Dean Foods leadership who took into account quality innovations, best practices and the “quality culture” within the plant. Purity Dairies emerged as the cream of the crop in the fluid milk category.  

“Purity Dairies is proud of the quality of the products we have produced for Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky during the past 80 years. We look forward to continuing that tradition for the next 80 years,” said Mark Ezell, president of Purity Dairies.

For more than 80 years, Purity Dairies has maintained the highest standards possible to ensure freshness and great taste in its extensive line of dairy products. Purity Dairies was started in Nashville in 1926 by Miles Ezell, and since then has grown to service Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky. More than 400 employees make up the Purity family, many of whom have been with the company for decades. In 1998, Purity Dairies was purchased by Dean Foods, the nation’s leading dairy processor and distributor, and currently produces 150 premium milk products, including milk, cottage cheese and sour cream, and sells 200 ice cream and frozen products.