“We’re so fortunate to be a survivor,” Paul Haynes Jr. said of his family business, which is about to reach a major milestone.
Haynes Dairy, located in western Lincoln County, will celebrate a century in operation in January and has spanned four generations since it opened in 1914.
Over the years, the operation has seen some changes, having transitioned from producing and processing dairy products to now focusing on distribution. But it remains grateful to those who have allowed it to adapt and continue for 100 years.
“We’ve got real good customers,” Haynes said. “They appreciate us, and we appreciate them.”
Haynes’ grandfather, Harbin Haynes, started the dairy after he began milking his cows and selling the resulting cans of cream by horse and wagon in downtown Lincolnton. A little over a decade later, he established Haynes Dairy Grade A Products.
Ice cream soon became a staple of the business, and remains the primary product it delivers today.
Several family members contributed their time and helping hands, including Paul Haynes Jr.’s aunt, Margaret Haynes, who was the county’s first female “milkman.”
By the mid-1940s, Harbin Haynes retired, leaving Paul Haynes Sr. in charge, according to previous Times-News reports. He decided to shut down the bottling plant and soon began Paul’s Distributing Company, meaning the farm would no longer produce its own dairy products. Instead, they used the land to raise beef cattle.
The business transitioned to become a deliverer of various dairy brands. This provided an “easier way of life,” Paul Haynes Jr. said.
When his father passed away in 1971, he made the choice to leave his job as a teacher and coach and take over the business.
These days, Haynes Dairy distributes products to convenience stores, supermarkets, rest homes, hospitals and schools, including the local district and that in Gaston County. With six trucks and three designated routes, the operation covers a 30-mile radius.
Entering into the fourth generation, one of Haynes’ sons remains active in the business. The other, Ritchie Haynes, serves as the director of Lincolnton’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Haynes Dairy has “stayed small” throughout the years, with only two additional employees outside of the family. Haynes cites this as part of the reason for the company’s success.
In an effort to kick off its celebrations for a century in operation, as well as give back to the community it calls home, Haynes Dairy will be giving out calendars marking the milestone at this year’s Apple Festival, taking place 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday in downtown Lincolnton.
“Lincoln County has been good to us,” he noted.
While he said he’s getting to the point where he needs to be retiring, he is taking it one day at a time. He’s not sure yet what the future holds, but he remains optimistic.
“We will continue on as long as we’re able,” he said.