Food

A State Investigation Into Trickling Springs Creamery’s Finances Preceded Its Sudden Closure

The Pennsylvania dairy is being investigated for selling over $7 million in promissory notes.

Trickling Springs Creamery is abruptly closing. Photograph courtesy of Trickling Springs

Trickling Springs Creamery (TSC), a popular and widespread dairy supplier in the DC-area, is abruptly ceasing all operations today following an investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities. The Chambersburg, Pennsylvania-based business is under investigation for violations of the state’s Securities Act of 1972, which prohibits fraudulent practices. In a document from November 2018, the state alleges that TSC executives offered and sold “at least” $7,803,829 in promissory notes to investors across the United States from February 2015 to October 2017.

The dairy, which launched in 2001 and was highly regarded in the Mid-Atlantic restaurant community, sold milk products, butter, cheeses, and ice cream to Whole Foods and other the retailers. It also operated two locations in DC–a kiosk at Union Market and a shop at Eastern Market–which, as of the time of this story, remain open. The company made a reputation on sourcing dairy from grass-fed cows spread across 32 partner farms and “minimally” processing the milk, including an organic line of products.

The allegations say TSC sold promissory notes to at least 110 investors—at least 15 of whom reside in Pennsylvania—and failed to provide pertinent financial statements. TSC executives Philip Reil, co-founder Gerald Byers, Elvin Martin, and Dale Martin allegedly received large sums of money from TSC bank accounts through March 2018; at least $1,184,318 was withdrawn in cash. Meanwhile, the state alleges TSC was insolvent and unable to fulfill its financial obligations to investors.

Trickling Springs marketing director Joe Miller declined to comment on behalf of the company. A representative from the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities says a hearing occurred on July 19, and a decision will follow.

A former employee of the company, who wishes to remain anonymous, says they and other members of the Pennsylvania Mennonite community backed the company because of its perceived values—proudly displayed on the company website—and Mennonite affiliations. They say they quit working for TSC because of change in the company’s culture and perceived late payments to affiliated businesses. 

“I think a lot of people are hurt. They’re people they trusted and now they got taken advantage of,” says the former employee. “It’s not unknown people, it’s people who are friends with each other and go to church with each other. It’s wrong all around.”

This story has been updated from an earlier version.

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.