MMPA General Manager Joe Diglio talks transformation and collaboration at annual meeting

MMPA is transforming to prepare for the realities of today and the unknown possibilities of tomorrow, said Joe Diglio, general manager of the Michigan Milk Producers Association.

“When an industry is changing as rapidly as ours is, adaptability is critical. We can no longer rely on our past practices or suggest that yesterday’s solutions are today’s answers,” Diglio explained during his speech to approximately 400 members and guests during the 102nd Annual State Delegate Meeting on March 15.

“Transformation is part of our strategy,” he continued. “Aligning with others within the industry through people, initiatives and processes will better position us in the changing environment. We compete in a global market and while we have localized challenges, working together can result in benefits for us all on a much larger scale.”

The meeting theme of “Focus on Cooperation” came out in many parts of Diglio’s address as he pointed to MMPA’s long-standing and successful partnerships like with Leprino Foods Company. The cheese manufacturer was later honored during the meeting with the MMPA Valued Partner award.

Further collaboration among the industry included the announcement of a signed memorandum of understanding between MMPA and Foremost Farms USA to expand the cooperative’s current strategic alliance. The co-investment into each other’s assets in Middlebury, Indiana and Greenville, Michigan will further diversify both cooperatives product mix and avoid redundancies, Diglio explained.

The collaborative approach, Diglio noted, is a turn from MMPA’s past which was prided on independent investments to tackle an increase in MMPA’s production. “While I applaud the direction that was taken back then, some of the challenges we see today aren’t specific to our own growth,” he said. “There are many influences that we simply don’t control. Working together can solve a larger challenge that alone no one can.”

However, investing effectively and efficiently in MMPA’s own assets is still a component of the strategy. MMPA’s plants have been able to handle increased throughput during the growth period of the last few years. Recognizing forecasted growth in the region, MMPA has more than doubled total internal processing capacity since 2008, now accommodating an additional 4.4 million pounds of milk per day.

“These facilities continue to handle increased throughput which has been a critical reason for our success during this growth period,” Diglio said. “In combination with teamwork and market intelligence, many sound decisions are made that provides a benefit that often goes unrecognized.”

“As we prepare for new market trends, we will continue to reinvest in our facilities. Whether it is through a collaborative approach or a self-initiated project, we will continue to look for opportunities that will create value added returns,” he continued.

MMPA’s transformation is also noticeable in evolving customer relationships. Diglio pointed out MMPA’s customer base has expanded in recent years and more customers are looking for partnerships and strategic solutions. Transformation is aligned with customers’ needs as MMPA’s team works closer with customers to find mutually beneficial solutions.

“We are effectively reintroducing ourselves to many new and well-established customers that are interested in being partners now and into the future. This is where people make a difference,” he said. “Getting the right people, at the right time, in the right roles promotes success.”

Diglio demonstrated his pride in the team of employees working on behalf of MMPA members. Recent organizational changes in MMPA have facilitated the business’ transformation through a balance of industry experience and new perspectives. Moving forward, this emphasis will continue to encourage success and new opportunities.

“We are committed to doing all we can to help support you during these challenging times,” he asserted. “And while it might be difficult to see the progress we are making be assured we are. There are many opportunities we see as we move forward and you have the right team in place today to help us in transforming our business to capture them. While we support the notion of cooperation and collaboration, we will not lose sight of who we represent. We understand, we stand committed to helping in every way possible.”

–Allison Stuby Miller

This article was originally published in the May 2018 issue of the Michigan Milk Messenger