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One of three sisters, Barbara studied to become a nurse. She works at the VA hospital in Kansas City. She's eligible for retirement, but she loves the job (she's now in administration), so she keeps making the drive.
Leroy grew up in Plattsburg. His father worked as a mechanic for TWA and farmed on the side. Leroy took classes in dairy farming at Central Missouri. He and Barbara dated in high school; after marrying, Leroy became partners with her father, who died in 1992.
There were difficult times. Leroy says that, without Barbara's salary, he doubts the family could have kept the farm.
As a kid, Barbara used to feel embarrassed that her chores included milking cows. Saying that she was married to a dairyman brought back the same feelings. But being a part of Shatto Milk Company changed Barbara's opinion. Now, Leroy says, she's eager to share her family history. She proudly refers to him as "the milkman."
Leroy, too, derives more satisfaction from the farm. Before he started bottling, he was a commodities dealer. "Nobody ever told me my milk tasted good," he says. Today, he says, people are always telling him how much they love his milk.
The "juice"-free cows and glass bottles were just two parts of the equation. A Kansas City ad agency helped the Shattos tell a story.
The Shattos had been bottling their milk for about a year when they hooked up with the Sullivan Higdon & Sink advertising agency, which has offices in the Crossroads, Wichita and Washington, D.C. One of Matt Shatto's college friends works at the agency. She suggested that Shatto become a client.
The Shattos didn't have much money for advertising, but they were open to new ideas. In early meetings with SHS, Leroy Shatto said he wanted to make milk fun again, not just something people buy, says John January, the agency's executive creative director.
SHS felt free to be creative. But the ideas didn't come from left field. "There's this great misnomer that you're always supposed to think outside of the box," January says. "But the truth is, very seldom can you. There's always a box."
The box, in this instance, was made of glass. Paul Diamond, a former SHS art director, recalls gazing at a Shatto bottle and thinking, This has to be the vehicle.
SHS came up with the idea of putting "headlines" on each bottle: Fresh. Icy Cold. Yummy. Family.
The bottles take a risk in that the headlines are larger and bolder than the Shatto name. SHS was going for what January calls "shelf presence." Lined up, the bottles convey much of what Shatto is about. "You're actually getting quite a bit of information about the brand," January says. "It's all through the bottle."
The sans-serif font on the bottles, Futura, was created in the 1920s. Nostalgia isn't the only concept at work, however. The bottles show a playful side. Their backs tell short, wised-up tales. One says: This milk is so fresh. There's a good chance that you passed the cow on your way to the store. Diamond says the voice on the back of the bottle is "the brand talking like a cow might talk."
Meeting the Shattos freed up SHS to be more experimental. January says they're fun, genuine, outgoing people; they get excited when SHS comes up with something interesting. "That was really gratifying," January says, "because we knew from them that this is their livelihood. This is everything to them."