Founded Through Shared Values

Davie Dairy was founded in 1959 by Theodore Berman and Jim R. Hazel. Jim Hazel was managing a family member’s dairy at the time and was seeking an ownership opportunity. Theodore was trading cattle in Davie, Florida at the time and owned Red Top Dairy. Red Top Dairy had plans to move to Okeechobee from Davie (Red Top Dairy closed in the 1980s) and the Davie property became available. Theodore seized the opportunity to use the Davie property to begin a new dairy business and subsequently formed a partnership with Jim Hazel. He saw in Mr. Hazel, hard work, honesty and extensive knowledge of running a dairy farm. Mr. Berman had a strong business sense and together, they formed an unlikely pair: Theodore Berman was a recent immigrant from Germany who returned to the cattle dealing profession he mastered in his native country and the Hazel family had endured the loss of their former Alabama farming business due to the Great Depression.

Expansion on the Horizon

Slowly Davie became urbanized, and Okeechobee presented an opportunity for the Dairy space to expand. The two began with a small number of cows and grew the business to approximately 300 cows when they eventually left Davie, Florida to move the Dairy to Okeechobee in December 1966. Their wives, Ann Berman and Lois Hazel, worked in the Dairy office and served as a stable foundation for smooth operations. The Dairy’s new Okeechobee location offered 960 acres with several thousand additional acres for raising heifers.

A Second-Generation Partnership

In 1977, William Berman, son of Theodore, joined the business after practicing veterinary medicine. Glynn Rutledge, son-in-law of Jim Hazel, joined the Dairy a few years later, and the two became second generation partners, with the same commitment to honest business practices and hard work as their parents and in-laws began. Theodore Berman passed away in 1979 and Jim Hazel passed away in 1993, leaving the management of the dairy to their son and son-in-law, respectively. The Dairy continued to grow through the decades and in 1989, Davie Dairy was the first dairy in South Florida to build and utilize free stall barns which has become the norm in South Florida today. Davie Dairy was also the first to partner with South Florida Water Management on an innovative environmental remediation project.

Commitment to Agricultural Innovation

Since this time, the Dairy has strived to stay at the forefront of agricultural technology and has been a steward of environmental preservation. In 2000, the Dairy built an innovative “Maternity Barn” facility, creating better supervision of births which resulted in more live, healthy calves and reduced the incidence of Johnes’ Disease. The overall result was that the Dairy was able to drastically reduce the number of replacement animals they were required to purchase and thus, significantly improved its ability to sustain its herd. In addition, the Dairy has since partnered with the Federal Department of Agriculture to identify the best management practices to reduce the incidence of Johnes’ Disease, a major threat to the United States agricultural industry.

Celebrating 50 Years

Today, after 50 years, Davie Dairy is home to over 4,500 cows. It is run by a team of over 40 employees, several of whom are second-generation members of the Davie Dairy family.

Theodore Berman and Jim R. Hazel

Lois Hazel and Ann Berman

Glynn Rutledge and William Berman