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Dairy delivery business closes

WEST FARGO -- Hundreds of people in the Fargo and West Fargo area got something extra this week in deliveries from McCann's Home Dairy. A milk-white flier explained that the delivery service was going out of business after 19 years. "I will miss ...

WEST FARGO -- Hundreds of people in the Fargo and West Fargo area got something extra this week in deliveries from McCann's Home Dairy.

A milk-white flier explained that the delivery service was going out of business after 19 years.

"I will miss all of the customers. I met a lot of good people," said Troy Miller, who started working for owner Francis McCann in December 1988, when the business began.

Miller's first day on the job was the same day his wife, Cheryl, gave birth to their son, Jake, who is now 19 and a college student.

Cheryl Miller said she and her husband are still adjusting to the news. "I told him, 'You got to turn the lights on, and you get to turn them off,' " she said.

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"It's just really sudden," Troy Miller said, adding he isn't sure what the future holds for him and the company's other two drivers.

But Miller was clear about one thing: his gratitude.

"He (McCann) has been good to me over the years," Miller said, referring to his boss, who likened the demise of the business to a death in the family.

"It's just like a family when it's almost 20 years," McCann said of the delivery operation, which he said will shut down after today.

McCann cited a number of reasons for his decision to close shop, including rising insurance, fuel prices and the cost of buying from his supplier, Cass Clay Creamery.

McCann had been distributing dairy products in the Lisbon area for a number of years when Cass Clay Creamery discontinued its routes in the Fargo area.

He bought five of the creamery's trucks and started McCann's Home Dairy.

Shortly after, he consolidated five routes into four.

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About a year and a half ago, he merged the four routes into three.

At the end, McCann's Home Dairy was serving more than 800 residential customers and more than 110 businesses, including day cares.

Keith Pagel, division manager for Cass Clay Creamery, declined to comment on the shutdown.

He said Cass Clay no longer offers home delivery, but any wholesale accounts affected by the change would be taken care of.

McCann said grocery stores now offer home deliveries, but he is aware of only one private delivery business in North Dakota similar to his, and that one is in Bismarck.

McCann, 59, said he is looking for a new job, as is his son, Tom, who was one of the company's drivers.

The elder McCann said he's not sure what his next step will be.

"I have a small snow removal and lawn business. I don't know if I'll expand that," he said.

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As word of the closing got around, Francis McCann got a call from a customer whose comments made his day.

"She said, 'If you ever decide to start up again, give us a call right away,'" McCann said.

"That made me feel better," he said.

The Forum and The Dickinson Press are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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