Diana Hagan, Lynn Stray and Jill Basch, co-owners of Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., have been named the 2019 Small Business of the Year for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) San Francisco District, which serves 14 counties in Northern California. Capital Access Group, a commercial real estate lender specializing in SBA loans, nominated the cheesemaker for the award.
Point Reyes, a second-generation, family-owned business located in Point Reyes Station, California, has an artisanal, all-natural approach to cheesemaking. Founded in 1959 by Bob and Dean Giacomini, the business started out as a 720-acre dairy farm, producing some of the highest quality milk in the North Bay. In 2000, three of Bob and Dean’s daughters joined the business and transitioned it from milk production to environmentally sustainable cheesemaking to reduce stress on the land.
“We were so pleased to nominate Diana, Lynn and Jill for this prestigious award,” said Jacklyn Jordan, president and CEO of Capital Access Group. “These amazing women have not only built an iconic brand with award-winning, artisanal cheeses, they also created the conditions for a more sustainable business that will serve future generations.”
In 2018, the sisters secured $7.8 million in SBA 504 financing through Capital Access Group to purchase a 20,000-s.f. facility in Petaluma, California, for a new, state-of-the-art cheese production and distribution facility.
“It is an honor to be recognized by the SBA’s San Francisco District Office as their 2019 Small Business of the Year, and we are grateful to Capital Access Group and the SBA for supporting our vision, but the real credit belongs to our employees,” said Hagan, who is CFO. “This has been a really exciting time for our company, and our employees are over the moon about our growth plan and excited for the opportunity to grow on the job and learn new skills. None of this would have been possible without their support.”
The company currently employs 85 people and expects to add up to 15 new hires over the next two years, with the goal of doubling cheese production in the next five years.
“We are fortunate to be able to produce our products in two locations in Marin and Sonoma, but we believe we have a greater responsibility to the larger community, to the economic environment, and to the agricultural landscape of the North Bay,” said Basch, who is CMO. “We’re focused on being business-oriented conservationists, because we realize that the cheese starts not just with healthy animals but with how we take care of the pastures. Only through sustainable farming practices can the land itself pay the necessary dividends beneficial to the future of our business—allowing us to raise healthy animals that produce the highest quality milk.”