Jenny’s Pennies: The Marti Legacy Continues

“Behind the success of every small business, there is a family,” anonymous

The Marti Legacy Continues Part 2 of 3

The Cheese House

Often times when someone starts a business from ground up, there is a desire to pass it along to their children. Jack and Jane Marti built their dream of a cheese plant, and it exceeded even their expectations. This wonderful couple had 5 children, 4 boys and a girl; Jack, Jim, Tim, Rick, and Debbie. Surely it would be expected that one of the children would take over operations of the cheese plant, right? Well, not exactly.

Jack and Jane were very proud of all 5 of their children and had high hopes for them all. One thing that these parents didn’t believe in was pushing their business onto their children. Of course, all the boys had worked at the plant through the years, and once their daughter got married, her husband, Dan Kennedy, came to work at the plant. The cheese plant was evolving and the industry was changing rapidly, they wanted their children to follow their own dreams, not feel chained down to their parents.

James (Jim) Marti was the oldest of five children. Well, he was tied for the oldest with his twin brother Jack. Jim enjoyed the family business and of course loved cheese but running a cheese plant wasn’t exactly what he had in mind. In 1975, a one room school house was for sale just down the road from the Farmers Cheese Plant owned by his father. Jack decided that it would be great to have a retail store close to the plant that the children could work at. Jack purchased the 1200 sq. ft. Amish school house. The original store was small and sold several varieties of cheese and deli meats. All of the Marti siblings had opportunities to be involved in the Cheese House and were even technically set up as partners in the business by their father. It was very clear from early on though, that Jim would be the Marti to make it into what we see today and eventually he became the sole owner of the Cheese House with everyone’s blessing and encouragement.

Jim has many fond memories of his parent’s business. He remembers when he and his brothers were young, they would get woke up before school to help their dad when he was short on help or going to work after school because others didn’t show up to work. Everyone in the family worked for their father in the plant at some point. I think that’s one reason they all have such a great work ethic.

At this time, they still lived in the apartment on top of the cheese plant and everyone helped as they could. The boys loved helping unload milk containers and sliding them up the conveyor belt. Theirs was a great childhood, and a very close and loving family. Unlike his father however, Jim was less interested in the physical labor and much preferred being around people. The idea of a retail business really called to him and what better business than cheese! After all, Jim couldn’t have a better mentor in business and cheese than his father Jack.

With guidance from his parents and lifelong examples of wonderful work ethic, Jim eagerly set off managing the family-owned retail store.

Over the years the Cheese House has gone from a small 1,200 sq. ft. Amish school house to Jim’s own successful business that is housed in the old 14,000 sq. ft. roller skating rink across the way near the intersection of Routes 208 and 18.

This business is not just about cheese though, cheese only makes up about 20% of the store space. This amazing location has so much more than meets the eye! The Cheese House is home to an amazing selection of specialty meats and cheeses, a fine foods section with selections from around the world, a gluten free and health food area, jams, jellies, and syrups, specialty gifts, jigsaw puzzles, and many more items than could possibly be named.

Not only will you have a wonderful time looking through all the items, you enjoy a laid-back atmosphere with old time country music serenading you from above. The Cheese House will even ship gift boxes to your friends and relatives! Customer service is a top priority. Jim prides himself on having lasting relationships that have spanned generations. He loves seeing someone who used to come in with their parents as a child, they now bring their own children into the shop.

Jim Marti grew up in a family business, now owns his own business, and has 2 sons of his own. Jim is his father’s son however, and would never push the Cheese House onto his children. Well, this story is far from over because after over 40 years of managing and now owning and expanding his own business, his son Dakota is now working along side his father and hopes to eventually take over the Cheese House. Jim is not a bragging man from what I can tell, but when we talked about his son wanting to take over the store the gleam in his eye and the smile on his face could have been seen from space. Obviously, he is very happy that his son feels called to continue the legacy of his father and grandfather.

As Jim gradually hands over the reins of the company, it is clear that Dakota will have not only the advice and support of his father, but also his encouragement. Just as his father before him made an ever-expanding business, changing with the times; Jim looks forward to see the direction Dakota will take in the future. Dakota has a big hat to fill, but if history shows anything, the Marti men love a challenge. Dakota has equipped himself with a degree in Business and has his toolbox full of advice and wisdom of the Marti men who came before him. It is easy to see parallels with Dakota and his fiancé Angie and his own grandparents. Dakota has a degree in Business and Angie has a degree in Accounting, the Marti name will continue on with the same spirit that we have come to know and love.

I am personally very thankful that the Cheese House future looks bright and has another generation of Marti at the helm. Every Sunday afternoon I eagerly walk through those familiar doors for my Sweet Lebanon bologna and Havarti cheese. My boys love looking at all the exciting toys, candies, and figurines, and when we go in there is always something new to see. In a time of chain stores and bargain outlets, it is so refreshing that our town has a gem like the Cheese House to patronize.

This has been another edition of Jenny’s Pennies, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into another generation of the Marti legacy! For the record Jim Marti’s favorite cheese is Cheddar and Dakota is a Sharp Cheddar fella. The final chapter of this series will be on the lasting legacy of the Marti family and highlight Marti Park.


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