Let’s hear it for the dads.
As Father’s Day approaches, we are reminded of the crucial role fathers play in the lives of their kids – they are experts in play and champions of love. Dads are always there with a pearl of wisdom or an ice pack, whatever the occasion calls for. They are a wealth of answers when the never-ending questions are flying and importantly, are essential role models for our wee ones.
At Vermont Creamery, we are surrounded by great dads – like so many, but our OG dad will always be Bob Reese, our fearless co-founder. Bob is a legend around these halls, and luckily for us, he passed the cheese torch to his son Matt, our Director of Finance and all-around great guy and dad to Charlie and Emi.
In celebration of Father’s Day, we sat down with Matt to chat about what it was like growing up as one of Bob’s three sons, what Bob taught him about fatherhood, and his favorite Bob-isms.
Tell us about your earliest memory of Vermont Creamery, we’ve heard something about a blue minivan?
Growing up I wasn’t entirely sure what my dad did for a living. The first thing I can remember is our old, rusty, baby blue minivan. In the early days of Vermont Butter and Cheese Company, my dad and his business partner Allison, had to wear many hats to get the product out the door. One of Bob’s jobs was the milk hauler. He would drive around Vermont and pick up small batches of goat milk to make the cheese. We didn’t have a milk truck, so our family minivan had to do the trick. I remember our garage being littered with stainless steel 5-gallon milk cans. My dad would remove all the seats from the van so he could fit as many milk cans as possible. When the cans were full, a little bit of milk spillage would occur onto the floor. I remember over time this van getting a distinct smell of spoiled goat milk, and I would be embarrassed to give my friends a ride to school or sport practice. Thankfully, we eventually outgrew this phase and needed an actual milk truck.
How did you explain what Bob did to your friends growing up?
I told them that my dad was a Cheesemaker, but not the cheddar kind!
Tell us about the “Bob Fund”
I learned early on after starting with the company that my dad wanted to minimize as much stress as possible for his employees, and that he really cared for the people that worked for him. He would take care of someone if they were in a pinch, whether they needed assistance with a medical bill or procedure, or a ride to work if someone’s car was down. He would pay people to quit smoking. I remember him being very happy when the company could finally afford health insurance and retirement plans.
What do you admire most about Bob?
My dad has a massive heart. This is the trait I admire most, for sure.
How often do you find yourself asking, "What would Bob do?"
I ask myself that every day, and then I do the opposite 😉
What did Bob teach you about fatherhood?
To me my dad was a leading example of how to balance family and work. He was a busy man, worked long hours and a lot of weekends. I am sure he always had a lot on his mind trying to get the business off the ground, and yet he was always so present when he came home to us. If he had a tough day at work, he didn’t show it at home. I remember many summer nights greeting my dad at the door as he got home from work. I would hand him his baseball mitt and ask him to play catch before he could walk in the door or eat something. He always gave us that time. He always told me that life moves fast. As a father now, I can see the importance of being present with our children. I hope to mirror how my dad behaved with us. Work will be there after bedtime or in the morning. We can afford to unplug for a minute and be present with our kids.
What are you most eager to pass on to your kids?
I want my kids to follow their beliefs and passions in life. If they enjoy something, pursue it. Have fun. Have meaning. Have purpose. I also want my kids to have open minds and listen to people. Explore new ways and new things.
The world seems pretty divided right now. Everyone shows up with their own truth. My truth is right, everything else is wrong. It doesn’t seem to be working out very well. I hope I can teach my kids to respect and value the differences in the world.
Do you dream of Charlie or Emmi working for Vermont Creamery some day?
I would love that. I’ll never forget the years I spent working with my dad. We had an hour plus commute each way. That is a lot of windshield time with dad! Selfishly, I would love to work with the kids just to share that time with them.
What do you love about being a dad?
There is a long list of things! I love watching the kids grow and develop their personalities. It has been interesting to see how different each kid is. One of my favorite things to experience is the world through their eyes. They have quite the imagination. They find joy in the smallest things. They find humor in unexpected places. They are so curious how the world works. It is pretty awesome to watch.
What’s your favorite thing to eat on Father’s Day?
Thankfully I married a rockstar cook, so anything my wife Meredith cooks, I am usually very satisfied.