Friday, April 30, 2010

Tillamook and Brandon

Tillamook is an Oregon company that makes great cheese.

The company is boycotted by some people. When it bought out Bandon Cheese in 2000 it treated the town of Bandon roughly and outsourced the brand name.

The details are old and a bit unclear to me, for the internet is not great for researching ten year old news stories. For example, an online rumor claims that the town of Bandon, Ireland had to file a lawsuit to stop Tillamook from using lawsuits to lean on the many businesses in the town of Bandon, Oregon that used the word "Bandon" in their name. But apparently Tillamook had written inappropriate letters but never tried lawsuits, the mayor of Bandon, Ireland only made an appropriately wry comment, and the Bandon small businesses kept their names.

Furthermore, Tillamook is farmer-owned whereas Bandon Cheese was not an employee-owned business. In some sense the "scandal" is a story of employee empowerment growing even though regional job markets conflicted.

I have not been to Bandon, Oregon but know people who vacation there. The town seems to be struggling because it is a coastal tourist town during a recession, not because of its cheese history. (I'm sure certain locals would disagree for reasons of family history.)

Would my family boycott Tillamook? Not with what little we know. It is sad that a local big company shut down a small one after a buyout, but that happens all the time; anyone expecting differently during the deal would be unrealistic, since legal precautions against that fate were not implemented. We don't know any other companies that make cheese as yummy and inexpensive as Tillamook, and during the past ten years their cheese have made many customers happy. To summarize: apparently Tillamook does much more good than bad even if it does have a spot on its record.

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