Chehalis Businessman Passes Company Down to His Son
By Amy Nile / For The Chronicle
An 85-year-old Chehalis company that produces goat’s milk nutritional supplements has a new president and CEO. Frank Stout recently passed down the reins of Mt. Capra Products to his son, Joseph Stout.
Joseph, 28, was teaching nutrition in Spokane but is relocating to Chehalis to take over the company. His father will attend Bastyr University in Seattle to study for a doctorate in naturopathic medicine to further the company’s mission.
The company started in 1928 as a dairy that initially made raw goat’s milk cheese. They eventually began extracting the goat’s whey, drying and concentrating it into a powdered nutritional supplement.
“People used it for a variety of conditions such as achy joints or arthritis,” said Joseph Stout, who also holds a masters of science degree in food science and human nutrition.
The Stout family took over the business in 1985. Mt. Capra’s cheeses are sold many places including Pike Place Market in Seattle.
“It was an award-winning cheese,” Stout said.
However, Mt. Capra no longer produces milk or cheese.
“We do plan on producing more goat’s milk cheese in the future. We’d like to do more boutique goat’s milk cheese,” Stout said.
In the 1990s, health food production picked up, Stout explained.
“We had a fundamental shift from goat’s milk cheese into nutritional products that became so prominent around the turn of the century. Today, we focus on nutritional products,” Stout said.
Mt. Capra now specializes in producing goat milk products, including proteins, minerals and sports drink supplements. Their dietary supplements aim to improve general nutrition, probiotic digestive health, colostrum immune support and and overall cleansing.
“We are organic for all intents and purposes right now but we are working on getting USDA certified,” Stout said.
The company raises its own goats on a farm near Centralia. The free-range goats graze on organic grass and hay.
“They live a very comfortable life out there,” Stout said.
Mt. Capra provides the goats with lots of space and clean bedding.
“We are a small business and and a small farm and a lot of times giant conglomerates have way too much animal life in way too small a space because it’s more economical,” Stout said.
“When you have those conditions the animals suffer and the quality of the food goes down. Our goats are not combined to a cell block like big conglomerates.”
“Space makes a huge difference in a number of ways starting with the humane treatment of the animals,” said Michael Rosenfeld, a professor of environmental and occupational health science at the University of Washington’s School of Public Health.
“The kinds of fatty acids you get from free-range animals can have beneficial effects.”
“We believe happy goats produce healthy milk,” Stout said. “That’s what they should be doing naturally.”
The company competes in a multi-billion dollar industry.
“All the giants are doing cow’s milk but a lot of people don’t tolerate cow’s milk. Our niche is with goats,” Stout said.
Goat’s milk is almost allergen free while cow’s milk is associated with many allergies, especially in children, he said. Goat’s milk also has more minerals than cow’s milk.
Stout said customers use the goats’ milk nutritional supplements to help with issues like arthritis, achy joints, digestive issues, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s Disease and fibromyalgia.
“Those people really rely on our products,” he said. “If people have aliments a lot of times you can find a product targeted to that.”
Linda Rockwell, a sales associate and former manager at Good Health Nutrition Center in Centralia, said she has sold Mt. Capra products for at least 15 years and uses them personally.
“It’s very good for everyday. I put it in a smoothie and it just makes you feel better,” she said. “You don’t want anything with pesticides, herbicides, chemicals or preservatives. These guys don’t do that.”
Growth Hormones and Antibiotics
Stout said his company tries to raise the goats naturally by avoiding growth hormones and antibiotics.
“Growth hormones are a very common thing. They can drastically increase milk production but then you have the issue of hormones in the milk,” Stout said.
“The use of growth hormones is very controversial. We just don’t know how much carries over into our food products but if they are absorbed it can have effects,” Rosenfeld said.
“It’s something people generally want to avoid. There’s been a lot of studies relating to hormones in food contributing to early onset puberty, primarily in girls,” Stout said.
“That’s what the research is showing but it is not definitive,” Rosenfeld said.
Mt. Capra uses antibiotics only when a goat gets sick.
“The big problem is antibiotics lead to resistant strains in humans,” Rosenfeld said.
The pharmaceutical industry is not producing new antibiotics fast enough to deal with the problem, according to Rosenfeld.
“This is impacting routine medical care. It’s a really big problem that is rapidly emerging. So if animals are not given antibiotics that’s great,” Rosenfeld said.
Pesticides and Herbicides
Mt. Capra also avoids using chemicals, pesticides and herbicides. However, according to Rosenfeld, the past use of these chemicals has permeated the soil and contributed to today’s problems.
“We just can’t get rid of them. It’s likely that the soil is still going to have some residual pesticides and herbicides in it,” Rosenfeld said.
“Pesticides can have affects on cancer and chronic illness. We don’t have enough research on all the pesticides being used but it’s a problem of not knowing how much is dangerous. And different people are more or less sensitive to the affects of pesticides and herbicides,” Rosenfeld said.
Mt. Capra uses a process known as refractance window drying to produce their supplements.
“That’s what really sets us apart,” Stout said. “We are drying the product and not using some of the harsh processes others do. I only know one or two other companies that use this technique because it isn’t as fast and the yield isn’t as high. So many won’t use it because it affects the bottom line.”
Rosenfeld said harsh processing can also destroy the product’s nutritional value.
“Our products are some of the least processed and healthiest in the industry,” Stout said.
“It sounds like these people are doing the right thing. I wish more companies would,” Rosenfeld said.