«A beautiful human adventure...»
Vivre et travailler au Pays Basque !Living and working in the Basque Country! A courageous movement in the 1970s... More than a promise, this was a reality for Jean Etxeleku, father of the current director of Fromagerie Agour. Along with five other partners, he was the one who laid the first stone of the Agour cheese factory in 1981.
« A project for Basques, with Basques. »… L’idée séduit une petite trentaine de bergers autour d’Hélette, au cœur du Pays Basque nord. « Banquiers » de l’entreprise les trois premières années, ils acceptent de fournir le lait de leurs brebis et d’être payés six à neuf mois plus tard, à la vente des fromages… Une prise de risque récompensée !
The idea delighted thirty shepherds in the Hélette area, smack-dab in the middle of Northern Basque Country. "Bankers" for the company during the first three years, the shepherds agreed to supply their sheep's milk and be paid between six and nine months later, after selling the cheeses... They took a risk that more than paid off! By 1984, the cheese factory was too small for them. A visionary entrepreneur, Jean Etxeleku created a metal construction company on the adjoining plot of land. Well thought-out diversification. This "second branch" meant he could build new sheepfolds in the area, and establish a Basque cheese franchise. He also sold milkers and milk tanks.
2014 - 2015
"... A commitment to the territory
In 2001, Peio Etxeleku joined his father, breathing new life into the company. The team introduced new ideas and a drive to develop a selection of products, "made in the Basque Country." The company moved to boost the local economy and create stable employment. Tasks to improve the quality of the cheeses increased tenfold (milk collection, research and development, ripening techniques, D.O. Ossau-Iraty with raw milk, bio, etc.) and to make Agour " a must-have," a brand found in meat and cheese shops, large department stores and on the menus of the best restaurants.
Growing larger in 2009... The Hélette factory grew too small and thus gained a "little sister:" the Irati ecological cheese factory (Great Environmental Quality), in Mendive, to produce small series, to create new cheeses, and to kick start a selection of ice creams. The two cheese factories employed around forty workers.