Since inheriting the mantle of Clover President and CEO from his father, Marcus Benedetti has worked tirelessly to continue the forward-thinking tradition of excellence established by his esteemed predecessors.
As the third generation of his family to carry Clover’s legacy forward, Marcus’s leadership has been a balancing act between defining the company’s future vision, and paying homage to its distinguished past.
His paternal role models who led the way set the bar high. Marcus credits his father, Dan Benedetti, as an early pioneer in the movement toward sustainability, long before his peers in the dairy industry were talking about it.
“I remember when Monsanto visited my dad in 1994 to tout the virtues of a new growth hormone called rBST,” says Marcus. “He saw immediately that Big Pharma was looking to profit at the expense of what was best for the consumer, and sent them packing.”
“Not long after that meeting, Dad began laying the groundwork that led to Clover’s North Coast Excellence Certification program (NCEC), which established stringent guidelines for stewardship and humane husbandry practice that has been the backbone of our company’s philosophy ever since. My father also spearheaded the movement to transition into organics. His tenure was a very exciting time in Clover’s story,” he recalls.
Witnessing that excitement and momentum inevitably drew young Marcus to the family business. “What Dad was doing intrigued me,” he recalls. “I have fond memories of he and my grandfather talking about Clover around the fireplace at our home. I wanted to have a relationship with my Dad like he had with his father.”
Gene Benedetti, Marcus’s beloved grandfather and founder of Clover Stornetta Farms, also had a profound influence on his decision to embrace the family business.
“My grandfather was an incredible man,” says Marcus with reverence. “His passion for life was forged out of his early childhood experience as the son of Italian immigrants, and later as a distinguished veteran of World War II. These experiences gave him grit, tenacity, and a strong work ethic which made him a successful businessman and community leader. He was a role model I always looked up to.”
Like those who paved the way before him, Marcus knew he would need to prove himself to earn his place. As a teenager, and during summers home from college, he spent countless hours working in the company trenches learning different aspects of the business from the ground up.
The experience gave him valuable insights into Clover’s inner workings at all levels, which prepared him to take over operations when his father was ready to retire.
Since taking the helm in 2006, Marcus has made his mark on the business by successfully expanding both Clover’s product line and its reach to new markets beyond its Northern California roots.
“Our biggest challenge and opportunity is bringing our message and values to a new audience. My goal is to reconnect the American dairy farmer to the consumer in a positive way,” he says. “We’re telling a different story by being transparent and showing people where their milk comes from.”
That personal connection to its customers has set Clover apart through the years. “My dad was a master at cultivating genuine connections with people,” Marcus reflects. “He always had his ear to the ground and not only welcomed feedback, but took it to heart in his decision making. It was that direct relationship with our customers that fundamentally changed Clover’s business. And once we built that trust, we made sure we delivered on our promise. That’s what we’ve always strived to do.”
Marcus hopes the legacy he has inherited will not end with his generation. “I look at myself as a temporary steward of something I can pass on to my children,” he once told a reporter at The Press Democrat (July 2014). No doubt when the time comes, those that follow will be ready to earn their place in Clo’s Quarters.