Knudsen Chronology

- 1914--Carl and Thorkild (Tom) Knudsen, Danish immigrant brothers, form Knudsen Laboratories, a dairy consulting company, in Los Angeles.

- 1919--Knudsen Creamery is founded next to Knudsen Labs at 1965 Santee St., the location of Knudsen’s largest plant. Produced buttermilk and cottage cheese using a patented process. Introduces slogan “The Very Best.”

- 1935--Knudsen enters the milk business.

- 1965--Knudsen’s chairman and founder, Tom Knudsen, dies. The family is no longer involved in company’s day-to-day operations.


- 1970--Knudsen products become available statewide with purchase of Borden’s Northern California milk operations.

- 1983--Winn Enterprises, a former real estate investment trust, buys Knudsen Foods, with operations in California and Nevada, for $74.8 million. A few months later, Winn announces but later cancels plans to buy Kern Foods, a maker of canned fruits and juices.

- 1984--Winn buys an inactive oil and gas company for $14.4 million to use as a vehicle for further investments.

- 1985--Winn buys Foremost Dairies of San Francisco from Acquihold for $50.1 million, thus forming the biggest dairy company in the West, with operations in nine states. Winn later buys Meyer Dairy near Kansas City, Mo., for $3.1 million. The company also discloses that it is behind on debt payments.


- 1986--Winn, now deeply in debt, sells a convenience store chain and announces that the rest of the company is also for sale. It misses two $18-million milk payments to dairy farmers, and three creditors force it into federal bankruptcy court proceedings.