- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

SARTELL, Minn. (AP) - Around 6:30 a.m. every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday morning, Jim Van Vooren hops into his diesel delivery truck.

He won’t return until after 6 p.m., when the 66-year-old finishes delivering milk to about 150 clients throughout Sartell, Waite Park, St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids - a route he’s memorized.

“I like that idea of doing something that has nostalgia and credibility to it,” explains Van Vooren, who has run Jim’s Home Dairy Delivery for the past 14 years.

While he’s known as “Grandpa Moo-Moo” to some of his eight grandchildren, Van Vooren said he always gets the same response when telling people his profession.

“They say ‘I didn’t know there were milkmen anymore.’ It’s every time. It’s always a total surprise thing.”

Van Vooren said he’s one of three independent milkmen in the St. Cloud area. He sells milk from Stoney Creek Dairy of Melrose and from Kemps, picking up the St. Paul-based dairy producer’s milk at a Sauk Rapids distribution center.

Van Vooren sells the milk in half-gallon and gallon quantities to both residential and commercial customers. While prices fluctuate, Van Vooren said a half-gallon is typically about $3 and a gallon is about $5.

He also sells a small selection of other dairy products, orange juice, fruit punch and eggs.

“I’ve always said there’s nothing in my truck you can’t get someplace else,” Van Vooren, who grew up on a southern Minnesota farm, told the St. Cloud Times (http://on.sctimes.com/1CTbd51 ). “But what I offer is customer service. I’m in the business of serving my customers.”

His wife, Monica, jokes that “the days he’s out late I know he’s been chatting with everyone.”

Van Vooren said his clients vary from the elderly to young families.

Some he inherited when buying his predecessor’s Oak Grove Dairy milk delivery route in 2001. Some grant him access to their property when they’re not home so Van Vooren can keep their fridges stocked. And the Van Vooren home is decorated with cow and milk knickknacks often given as Christmas gifts by customers.

“There’s a relationship between a milkman and his customers,” Van Vooren said. “It’s like being a part of their family in a way. To me that’s what the business is all about.”

Van Vooren doesn’t advertise, but refers to his yellow and white milk truck as “a moving billboard.” It’s the second milk truck he’s owned and it was purchased via Craigslist three years ago.

He keeps it stocked and plugged in on the side of his Heritage Drive home. Weather is sometimes an issue, and Van Vooren said he does most of the truck maintenance himself.

“I tell people I’ll be doing it until I can’t anymore,” Van Vooren said.

The only irony of Van Vooren’s profession is that he’s never been a milk drinker.

“There’s no worry about him drinking all of our profits,” jokes Monica, who handles some of the clerical work.

“It’s a fun industry to be part of.”

___

Information from: St. Cloud Times, http://www.sctimes.com

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