Hollandia Dairy: A Story About Heart, Hard Work, and Heritage

Arie de Jong and his family are the classic American success story, resplendent with an Ellis Island beginning and inspiring lessons about what it takes to make it in the land of opportunity - hard work, family unity and an entrepreneurial spirit.

The De Jongs founded San Marcos-based Hollandia Dairy, one of the most successful dairy businesses to come out of San Diego County and still going strong more than 60 years after its humble beginning. But before the De Jongs made it in America, they were immigrants who could not speak English and had just $35 in their possession.


Arie de Jong was just a boy when his family of  12 emigrated from Holland to the United States and settled in North County.

The family sold everything to pay for their trip across the Atlantic Ocean and brought with them few possessions. But that didn’t matter. They had survived the Great Depression and World War II. It was time to start anew.

De Jong recalls his family’s voyage to New York and passing through Ellis Island. A picture of the De Jong children and their parents stepping off their boat is prominently displayed on the Hollandia Dairy website.

“It was a rough boat ride,” De Jong remembers. “I remember waking up and seeing the Statue of Liberty and saying ‘Wow, we’re in America’.”

The de Jongs were indebted to “Uncle Sam,” from the start de Jong says. That would be his uncle, Sam Bruinsma, the dairy farmer who sponsored his family and gave the De Jongs their first jobs in America. “We worked hard and saved money,” De Jong says. The family initially lived in three small cottages by a creek near Old Pomerado Road in Poway. They eventually moved to Escondido, where De Jong attended Escondido High School.


The timing of the family’s arrival in North County could not have been better. In 1949, milk was the number one agricultural product in San Diego County and the De Jongs knew dairy farming well. The family had been in the dairy business for more than 200 years in Holland. One year after their arrival, the family had saved enough to buy a dairy farm with 28 cows at the corner of Felicita and Highway 395 (now Centre City Parkway) in Escondido. In 1952, they bought a larger dairy farm in San Marcos and continued expanding over the years. They named their business Hollandia Dairy in honor of their homeland and eventually moved their headquarters to San Marcos.

Hollandia Dairy today is one of the few remaining dairy businesses in San Diego County and one of the best known, supplying milk and dairy products to schools, hospitals, prisons and the military across Southern California. De Jong, now in his 70s, left the dairy business many years ago but did not abandon his entrepreneurial spirit. He flourished as the operator of successful waste management and recycling businesses in North County before his so-called “retirement” in the late 1990s. “Retirement is really not for me,” De Jong says, flashing his familiar smile. “I don’t mind being retired as long as I’m allowed to have projects on the side.”


Among those projects are the charitable works that De Jong has become known for throughout North County. After selling his waste management business, De Jong gave his former employees a $1 million bonus to share for all their years of support and went about looking for other projects “to help mankind.” He found one when he purchased Green Oak Ranch in Vista in the late 1990s. De Jong made improvements to the facility that houses a drug and alcohol recovery program and charged the operators a nominal fee of $1 to continue their mission.


Palomar Health is fortunate to be a recipient of De Jong’s generosity. De Jong recently made a gift through the Palomar Health Foundation that is being used for the construction of conference room at Palomar Medical Center Escondido. The state-of-the-art conference room will be dedicated to the De Jong family.

  • Palomar Medical Center Escondido


    2185 Citracado Parkway

    Escondido, CA 92029





  • Palomar Medical Center Poway


    15615 Pomerado Road

    Poway, CA 92064