Interview: Joe Pettit

How might we best describe your business?

Polka Dot distributes milk and associated dairy products to about 500 convenience stores in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. We also sell many other items, including beef jerky, meat and cheese snacks, chocolate bars, caramels, lollipops, bread, frozen pizzas and ice cream.

What separates you from the competition?

We are a full service dairy distributor; meaning that we actually help control inventory and put product on the shelves at our clients' stores.

What charities are you involved in and why?

We help a lot with Hastings Family Service. Every year at Christmas we help fill a grocery order for 500 or so local families. We typically donate a half gallon of chocolate milk, a half gallon of ice cream, and usually one other item (butter or juice) for every family.

We like to help with HFS because it is locally based and serves this community.

What is one little-known-fact about your business?

A lot of people confuse us with Hastings Coop Creamery, which produces our milk. We don't own the Dairy store at the creamery. The best way to think about our relationship with the creamery is this: they produce Polka Dot milk (as well as Valley View Farms, their own label), and we distribute it.

How was your business founded?

My Dad, Wally Pettit, and his partner started in 1956 by hauling milk in back of their cars to small "Mom and Pop" type stores that the bigger dairies wouldn't service. My Mom used to say that they owned a milk truck before they owned a house.