Hecker milk hauling company celebrates 75 years - Republic-Times | News

Hecker milk hauling company celebrates 75 years

By on September 2, 2015 at 10:44 am
These days, milk is picked up at farms, being directly loaded into shiny insulated tanker-trailers such as the one being pulled here by one of Braun’s trucks. This trailer, the latest acquired by the Brauns, cost more than $78,000.  (Alan Dooley photo)

These days, milk is picked up at farms, being directly loaded into shiny insulated tanker-trailers such as the one being pulled here by one of Braun’s trucks. This trailer, the latest acquired by the Brauns, cost more than $78,000.
(Alan Dooley photo)

“Got milk?”

If the answer to that popular advertising question is “yes,” it may be because of the work of Hecker-based William F. Braun Milk Hauling.

The firm just celebrated its 75th year in operation, hauling milk to market and eventually, your table.

Dairy farming is a relentless, demanding way of life. Cows must be milked at least twice a day – every day – including Christmas and New Year’s Day.

A necessary next step in getting that healthy product to your table is picking the milk up  – in rain, snow and even on nice days – and hauling it to dairies.

Although Braun’s principal mission is hauling milk, it also moves other food products throughout the nation with refrigerated trailers.

The firm began in 1940, when William F. Braun purchased a 1936 Chevrolet truck and began hauling cans of milk to St. Louis for processing. In those days, he didn’t go to farms to collect the raw product. Rather, it was brought to his facility in Hecker by so-called “sub-haulers” who collected it from area farms.

As time passed, these sub-haulers diminished and then disappeared, and Braun transitioned to picking the milk up at area farms with a smaller tank truck, delivering it to dairies for processing – pasteurizing and bottling.

Milk cans were largely out of use by 1957.

Change has continued, and with William F. Braun’s passing, all six of his children desired to remain engaged in the family business.

“So we had to grow, to support their mom Lucille, and as marriages took place, growing families,” William Braun told the Republic-Times on Thursday in Hecker.

As the need to grow went forward, dairy farming in Monroe County dwindled to the point that in the early 1990s, only five such farms remained in Monroe County. And the Brauns were obliged to reach farther afield to find farmers needing milk hauled to dairies.

Today, they pick up milk as far south as Cape Girardeau, Mo., and northeast to Mount Vernon.

As their area of collecting milk has grown, the distance of deliveries to dairies has taken them further and further. Today, Paul Braun explained, there are no diaries in St. Louis and the closest Illinois dairy in O’Fallon gets its milk from up north – much of it from Wisconsin.

So William F. Braun Milk Hauling currently collects milk in large shiny insulated tanker trailers and hauls it as far as Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi – an average of nine truck loads each and every day.

Paul Braun said that translates into 12 to 14 million pounds of milk a month – less in the summer and more in the winter. They have delivered more than 3 billion pounds of milk to market since he started keeping records in 1974. For comparison, that is about twice as much tonnage as the displacement of all of the U.S. Navy’s giant aircraft carriers.

Today, the Brauns employ 18 drivers, with 14 dedicated to moving milk in tankers and four driving refrigerated, 53-foot trucks over the road to deliver solid food products.  Their fleet includes 14 tanker trucks and eight refrigerated trailers.

The six children-owners have been reduced by passings to three. Janet, Edward and Steve are gone, with Allan, William and Paul remaining to head up the family operation. And a family company it will remain, William and Paul affirmed, speaking also for Allan, who was on the road when we visited.

The wheel is being passed to a third generation, and change is doubtless occurring in the dairy industry. But one thing remains firmly in place: the name of the William F. Braun Milk Hauling company from Hecker. It is 75 years old this summer and hauling stronger than ever.


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Alan Dooley

Alan is a photojournalist -- he both shoots pictures and writes for the R-T. A 31-year Navy vet, he has lived worldwide, but with his wife Sherry, calls a rambling house south of Waterloo home. Alan counts astronomy as a hobby and is fascinated by just about everything scientific.