In the 1930s, my great-grandfather, Arthur Gompf, started Hilltop Dairy. Pop, as we called him, would pick up milk from his farmers who supplied him, then bring it back to his “milk house” where he would pasteurize, homogenize, and bottle the milk for delivery to customers in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and the surrounding area. He once estimated that, in his years of delivering milk, he walked the equivalent of traveling around the globe twice.
I can still remember the wonder of that milkhouse, all white and clean on the inside, and the fun of having my own great-grandfather come to the house to deliver milk. Sometime, he would put it in the insulated milk box that everyone had on their front steps, but usually he would stop for a visit, never forgetting to put a silver half dollar in my big purple piggy bank. When I cracked into that piggy bank at the age of 5, I had $200 to start my first savings account. That money ultimately helped me purchase my first car at the age of 17.
Pop’s milk was always extra-creamy, because, although he skimmed cream off the milk for sale, he didn’t always insist on every bit of cream being off before homogenization. I loved his thick, sweet milk, and to this day, I cannot drink store-bought milk. It just tastes like water.
Pop and I were always great friends, as you can see from the picture above, taken in 1972. I was two and a half years old, and clearly Pop and I had a lot to talk about. I remember Pop listening to me intently as I babbled to him standing beside his easy chair in the room we called the solarium. Pop passed away in 1976 at the age of 84. I’m pretty sure he could kick his feet up over his head while lying on his back in what we would call a yoga plow pose until the day he died.
When I decided to give my company an “official” name (I worked for several years eponymously), I wanted to find a way to honor my family and to honor the man who was so important both to me and to making my father the man he is today. I chose the name Hilltop in Pop’s honor, and I hope I apply the same standards of quality, care, and individualized service that he did. I may be in a different line of work, but I share Pop’s entrepreneurial spirit, and I like to think he is smiling happily on me.