By Marc Schoder
What’s the best way to milk a cow? That’s up for debate, but Shannon and Kenneth Valentine of Portales have the answer for how to clean a cow. The southern Californian natives have built a business on cloth towels and support from dairies across Roosevelt and Curry counties.
Their business — Udderly Clean, a professional cloth-towel-cleaning service — started in Portales two-and-a-half years ago. It serves 32 dairies in Roosevelt and Curry counties by providing them with pickup and delivery towel service to clean cows’ udders.
“The cotton from the towels cleans and removes bacteria so that it does not smear on the cows udders,” Shannon Valentine said. Valentine noted that towels strip impurties from the udder. The process wasn’t new, but most dairies were using paper towels before a towel delivery service was available.
The start of Udderly Clean came with the help of the Small Business Development Center at Clovis Community College.
“The (SBDC) and (SBDC Director) Sandra Taylor helped us secure a small business loan and helped us put our financial information in order,” Valentine said.
The Valentines, with the help of the SBDC, secured a loan for $150,000. “We had our financial information in order because of a lawyer that we hired prior to going to CCC, the SBDC helped us fine tune it,” said Shannon Valentine.
The financial projections were that the couple would make $100,000 in the first year with the new business.
“We ended up making $120,000 in our first year,” said Shannon Valentine. “When we came down here from southern California, we had already obtained contracts for our services from three different dairies,”
She added that she and Ken were looking at Clovis as well as Muleshoe as well, but found Portales had more dairies to supply with towels.
The couple gave up jobs working for an airplane company in southern California where Shannon worked in purchasing and her husband Kenneth worked as a machinist.
The couple, before going into business for themselves, did research on the benefits of cloth towels for use of cleaning cow udders and how it would benefit local dairies.
Udderly Clean was honored by CCC’s Small Business Development Center at a special recognition ceremony at the capitol during the state Legislature session for being an outstanding client of the SBDC.
“This is the seventh year in a row that they have honored a small business there. They only do one per year.” Shannon Valentine said, adding that Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish acknowledged the company during this ceremony as well.
The company cleans almost three million towels per month, according to a release from New World Education, Inc.
“My husband and I started Udderly Clean because we wanted to have the opportunity to run our own business,” Shannon Valentine said. “We have friends in Idaho who have a similar business to what we have, and they were the ones who told us about Portales.”
Since the Valentines have been in business, they have increased production and purchased additional equipment to reduce costs. The Valentines have doubled their business each year they have been in existence, according to Shannon Valentine.
“We have purchased two additional washers as well as two more driers to help handle our inventory of 300,000 towels that we have,” Shannon Valentine said. “With the addition of two more trucks and a new trailer we see our business continuing to grow.”
The Valentines’ efforts to grow the business also mean the growth of new jobs for the counties of Curry and Roosevelt. The staff is currently at seven, the Valentines and five others. Shannon Valentine said the business is looking for another person right now and Shannon Valentine expects an increase to 10 employees within the next year.
Gabriel Armijo has been a driver for Udderly Clean for a year and said he likes the special attention each employee receives.
“There is no way that I would leave this company,” Armijo said. “They treat us very well and the Valentines are giving people.” Armijo said that when he had a death in the family, the Valentines gave him time off that he needed.
Shannon Valentine said one of the many advantages to her business was by using regular towels it helps save the environment.
“By not throwing away the large amount of paper towels that (any) dairy would use on a monthly basis,” she said, “it saves space in our landfills.”