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Triple “A” Cheese Co. Ltd.: A Family Recipe for Delicious Success
If Miss Muffet had opted for a creamy-style feta cheese instead of simple curds and whey, she may have been so absorbed in the surprising texture that she would have avoided falling off of her tuffet at the sight of a measly spider. Luckily for fans of children's stories Muffet wasn't living in Canada and the Stanwyck family wasn't supplying her with her snack, because their domestically manufactured product would have been impossible to ignore.
The Stanwycks have been making delicious cheeses for five decades and has become known for its superior domestically produced feta cheese, in addition to traditional brined curd cheeses. “My dad, Gus, got started making cheese while he was at the University of Guelph in the late '60s taking a cheese-making course, and in 1970 he opened his own shop down on 3135 Universal Drive. It’s funny the things you remember from when you were eight years old,” laughs Tom Stanwyck, now the second generation owner of Triple “A” Cheese Co. Ltd. (TAC), headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario. “I still remember making cheese at the old unit.”
Today, TAC produces a line of feta cheeses in both crumbly and Halal-certified creamy varieties, in addition to a line of plain and pressed yogurts. “It was in that old unit where he learned to make the kinds of feta that weren’t widely available here in Canada at the time, and once he figured out how to price the products that was all there was to it,” says Stanwyck. “Eventually we had to close that location because of the leaner times in the late '80s and '90s, but about 20 years ago my brother Chris and I got together and we decided to have some fun making cheese again. My dad had retired for awhile, but he’s 83 now and still running around keeping up with all of us.”
Catering to Niche Palettes
Tom maintains that the key to the company’s success lies in its ability to fill demand for niche items. “Our formula is just to make a good product and work with our customers. We have a patented Macedonian-style creamy feta that just would not have been possible to sell 25 years ago,” asserts Stanwyck. “But now we can hardly keep the item on the shelves. In Canada we have people from all parts of the world and they just don’t want the crumbly feta cheese. They want the creamy style of feta, which is a very traditional staple in Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries and that has been a lot of fun and a big success for us.
“We really manufacture the entire dairy section of the Greek salad plate. We make the feta, but we also had customers asking us for yogurt as well,” continues Stanwyck. Today, the company offers its popular products under the Triple “A” label, as well as for private label brands.
In recent years, the company has been exploring additional varieties to its well-established product lines. “I’m always thinking to myself how to make the products better. Even if the customer is satisfied, I never think I quite hit the mark. I always feel like there is room for improvement,” states Stanwyck. “So we are always after new products. There are still plenty of opportunities for different feta styles. We’re getting into more sheep’s milk and goat’s milk products these days and we’re working on a sheep’s milk feta.” In addition, the company also offers lighter feta varieties for the health conscious consumer, as well as a goat and cow milk blend of feta distributed as “Fetavo.”
Stanwyck clarifies, however, that the diversification of the company’s line of products is limited strictly to dairy. “I’m not about to start making hummus or baba ghanoush.”
The Sky is the Limit
The product line may remain within a specific niche, but in the coming years the company itself may expand into a larger market: the United States. “We do a lot of business in the States and we’re expecting between 2 million and 4 million kilos in demand over the next few years, so it would really make sense for us to open up another processing plant there. We could use USA milk for USA cheese and have cheaper shipping. It would certainly be more cost effective,” states Stanwyck. “Who knows? Maybe the third generation will want to get in here soon and then I’ll be on my way out once they want to grow the business from there.”
The success of TAC’s cheeses and yogurts lays both in the quality of the dairy and employee loyalty. “We use an ultra filtration system for the cream and we only use really fresh cream that we get from a source here in Ontario,” asserts Stanwyck. “But experience is also huge for us. We have a really strong loyalty from our customers because we have really developed and perfected our formula over time with the dedication of our employees. The majority of our cheese makers are the same ones we started with 20 years ago and even down to the shipping and packing guys have been here for eight years or longer.”
With a loyal base of both employees and customers and a line of signature cheese for a variety of palates and markets, Triple “A” Cheese Co. Ltd. is holds the capabilities to satisfy for generations to come.