Alpenrose Dairy in court: Deal ‘seemed deceitful’

Multnomah County

Members of the family are fighting over whether or not to sell

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A member of the family trying to block the sale of the Alpenrose Dairy to a Seattle-area business testified people were “trying to hypnotize my father” over what seemed like a “deceitful” deal.

Cary Cadonau took the stand in a Multnomah County courtroom Tuesday, the second day of a show-cause hearing about the sale that pits family members against each other.

The older and younger generation of the Cadonau family are facing off over the potential sale.

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“My aunt Barb berated me…I was stunned and saddened,” Cadonou said as he recalled the struggle to prevent his father from being fired as co-president.

Carl Cadonau Jr., the former co-president of Alpenrose Dairy, allegedly financed his childrens’ proposal to buy the dairy, his son said. That was an effort to prevent the dairy being sold to Washington-based Smith Brothers.

Cary Cadonau’s practices as Alpenrose’s former lawyer were questioned by opposing council during the hearing over the dairy’s future. They said he used the Smith Brothers letter of intent to craft a “superior” purchasing proposal.

Coming to the Cadonau siblings’ defense was Union Shop Steward for Alpenrose Zachary Bye, who told KOIN 6 News 115 of the 150 employees have now signed their support. He testified that employees found out in mid-August their jobs could be at stake with the sale and so far only 70 of them have reapplied to the new buyers.

Backing the employees was Alpenrose General Manager Bryce McKinnon, who credited them with the success of the company.

McKinnon confirmed in testimony that he had made 50 unauthorized photo-copies of a press packet he found on President Rod Birkland’s desk about the dairy sale to an out-of-state farm and distributed it to employees.

McKinnon, who is former co-president Carl Cadonau Jr.’s son-in-law, also testified he’d heard months before Birkland tell employees that his intent with the sale was to eventually sell the land. McKinnon worked with the Cadonau siblings to create their counter proposal to buy Alpenrose, which was voted down at a company board meeting in June.

Birkland also testified, saying the business has been on the decline the last few years. He said he’d hoped to negotiate on purchasing terms with the other family owners one-on-one before it turned to the courts.

“My mindset was we can figure this out,” Birkland said. He also described Carl Cadonau Jr. as an “equal partner” for a long time, when it came to dairy sale negotiating responsibilities.

In the first day of proceedings, Alpenrose Dairy employees and community groups attended in support of those who don’t want to sell.

Alpenrose is not just a locally known brand and business, it’s a huge part of the community, hosting Christmas and Easter events, the Softball World Series, go-cart and bicycle racing events.

A community fundraiser has already brought in nearly $25,000 to help in the legal fight.

WATCH: Where we live: Alpenrose Velodrome

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