Friday, October 19, 2018
 Mark Davis Receives 2016 Horatio Alger Award  

Mark Davis Receives 2016 Horatio Alger AwardMark Davis, who led the a family empire that includes Davisco Foods, Cambria Countertops, Sun Country Airlines and other businesses, has been selected for membership in the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.

The Washington, D.C.-based educational nonprofit honors the achievements of individuals and encourages youth to pursue their dreams through higher education.

Davis joins 12 other business and civic leaders from across North America in receiving this honor in 2016. Since its establishment in 1947, the Horatio Alger Award is annually bestowed upon recognized leaders who have succeeded, despite facing adversity, and who are committed to both philanthropy and higher education.

Davis was born in Frost, Minnesota, at the end of the Great Depression. His father bought St. Peter Creamery, a small plant with two employees, which among other things made butter for the military during World War II.

Davis grew up working for his father, which helped him pay his way through Mankato State University where he earned a degree in business administration and economics in just 2 1/2 years. He began working at St. Peter Creamery full time to support his wife, Mary, and their young children. When the butter business faced challenges in the late 1960s, Davis left his dad's business and began making cheese.

In 1969, he purchased Le Sueur Creamery and in 1971 founded the Le Sueur Cheese Company, which eventually merged with his father's creamery. The company was slow to take off, and Davis and his family lived modestly throughout most of the 1970s. After nearly shutting its doors, Le Sueur Cheese began to take off in the early 1980s and in 1993 merged with Jerome Cheese Company, which Davis founded with backing from Kraft Foods. The merger launched Davisco Foods International, which today is a $1.2 billion business that produces one million pounds of cheese per day.

The family started Cambria in Le Sueur in 2001 and purchased Sun Country Airlines in 2011. They also operate Davis Family Dairies.

Last year, for the first time, the Davis family landed on Forbes magazine’s list of richest American families with an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion.

"The entrepreneurial spirit and determination that Mr. Davis displays are traits that all Members of Horatio Alger Association possess," Byron Trott, president and CEO said in a statement.

"We recognize that those who demonstrate an unwavering will to succeed – despite facing seemingly insurmountable challenges – so often accomplish what seems to others to be impossible. Mr. Davis is living proof of this philosophy, and we are pleased to present him with this Award."

Davis is a board member of the American Dairy Products Institute as well as Minnesota State University Foundation and devotes time and resources to both the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and the Minnesota FFA Foundation. Davis is a benefactor to Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Minnesota Historical Society and Camp Cambria, a camp for children with juvenile arthritis. He has also provided $5 million in scholarships to underprivileged, at-risk youth.

"I have always believed in the power of hard work, and I am proud to stand with such an outstanding group of individuals who have achieved success, despite having faced significant challenges. I look forward to working with the membership to instill these same principles in promising young scholars," Davis said in a statement.

Source: Horatio Alger


Posted on Thursday, February 11, 2016 (Archive on Thursday, February 18, 2016)
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