Quality in the Making
Mercer's Dairy is a known name in Upstate NY, with a reputation for quality products. Mercer's has spent decades developing trust among our customers and neighbors from one generation to the next. Since being founded, Mercer's Dairy has undergone a great transformation.
In the 1930s, Oneida County dairy farmer Ralph Manzer began bottling milk from his farm. He called his operation 'RR Manzer' and continued his bottling company until 1945, at which time he sold his milk route and bottling equipment to Mr. and Mrs. Ira Barnard.
Barnard renamed the business 'ID Bernard' and built a bottling facility on Post Street in Boonville, NY. He sold nearly 300 quarts daily, including daily milk deliveries to Boonville-area homes.
Continuing to expand his business, Barnard purchased a milk route in Constableville, NY from Red McPhilmy and started a new delivery route in the Forestport area. He delivered milk daily, primarily to homes, along these routes. In those days, milk was sold 'raw', not processed as it is today. It was not until the late 1940s when laws were passed making pasteurization mandatory.
In 1951, Barnard sold his dairy to Earl Mercer, whose name the business now bears. Mercer purchased the business, including the milk plant on Post Street and the house next door, for $35,000. Later that year, Mercer purchased a two and a half gallon ice cream machine. In 1952 a farm route was established and Mercer began producing ice cream. In the first year he produced nearly 5000 gallons. Milk sales increased to 900 quarts daily. During the next five years, milk production increased by 5000 gallons each year.
During the late fifties and early sixties, Mercer continued expanding his business by purchasing the Royal Duchess Ice Cream Company on W. Dominic St. in Rome, NY and the Lowville Dairy, owned by Loren Schoff, on Rt. 12 outside Lowville, NY. In 1963, Earl Mercer, Robert Mercer, James Mercer, and Harlan Bellinger began an equal-share corporation, Mercer's Dairy, Inc. Mercer's opened stores in Boonville, Stokes, and Lyons Falls, NY. The business continued to grow and evolve and, in 1965, Jim Mercer sold his shares to the other three owners and purchased the three stores.
In 1973, Earl Mercer sold his share of the dairy business to his daughter, Mary, and her husband, Bob Wetmore. Mercer's continued to expand with the purchase of Adirondack Dairy in Boonville from Ted Egnaczk in 1979 and Rossdale Dairy in Lowville from John Ross in the early 1980s. By 2001, Mercer's Dairy was producing 150,000 gallons of ice cream annually.
Thirty years later in January of 2002, Quality Dairy Farms, Inc. purchased Mercer's Dairy. Eight farm families from Lewis and Jefferson Counties own Quality Dairy Farms. The owners are Gary Berrus of Lowville, NY; Michael Birchenough of Lowville, NY; Roxaina Hurlburt of Lowville, NY; Maxwell and Patsy Makuch of Carthage, NY; Charles Sullivan of Carthage, NY; Michael Sullivan of Carthage, NY; William Vargulick of Carthage, NY; Steven Eisel of Copenhagen, NY; and Dalton Givens of Charlotte, NC.
It is the partners of Quality Dairy Farms' vision to bring awareness and recognition of the extremely high quality of dairy products available from Northern New York. Their dedication is reflected by the numerous 'Dairy of Distinction' Awards and the prestigious Empire State 'SUPER MILK' Awards.
Mercer's Dairy continues to provide the same delicious flavors that Mercer's customers have always enjoyed, with 37 traditional flavors of ice cream, four flavors of sherbet, three flavors of fat-free, no-sugar-added ice cream and its unique, unprecedented creation of for adults-only, Mercer's Wine Ice Cream.