On the heels of significant expansion into Kentucky and other markets, Utica, Ohio-based Velvet Ice Cream says it is about to embark on the largest capital improvement in the company’s 101-year history. Velvet will break ground this month on a 21,000-s.f. facility expansion, with an estimated cost of more than $3 million. The move will add a new, state-of-the-art warehouse freezer distribution facility to Velvet Ice Cream’s Utica plant at Ye Olde Mill, more than doubling the company’s freezing and picking capacity. As demand for Velvet Ice Cream has soared, the ice cream manufacturer says it is on pace to outgrow its current capacity within the next 12 months.
“With steady growth that has taken the company from $25 million in revenue in 2009 to more than $30 million in 2014, we are nearly at capacity with our existing distribution facility,” said Velvet Ice Cream President Luconda Dager. “This new development allows us to improve sustainability, sharpen efficiencies and produce more delicious Velvet Ice Cream in order to meet increased demand.”
Velvet Ice Cream is sold throughout Ohio, but has been moving beyond the Buckeye State’s borders in recent years, according to report. Indianapolis is one of its biggest markets. It expanded into Kentucky in early 2014 and plans to further broaden its distribution in the South—Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina are all markets the company reportedly may target next.
Velvet selected the Licking County firm Robertson Construction as general contractor for its Utica expansion. The project is projected to take seven to eight months and is expected to be operational by April 2016. Currently employing a staff of 125, Velvet’s new distribution facility will require the addition of eight new employees in its picking and shipping operations. However, the development enables the company to expand production as new accounts are acquired, which could increase future employment. The project also uses the latest green technology, minimizing the company’s environmental footprint via environmentally friendly design, motion controlled energy efficient lighting, state-of-the-art insulating panels and high-speed automated doors.
Dager added that, thanks to the support of tax abatement from North Fork Local School District and Velvet’s partners at People’s Bank and Freije-RSC Engineered Solutions Co., the expansion will make it possible for the company to not only continue serving existing customers, but also enter new markets and forge new partnerships, like those Velvet already has with major retailers and other food service partners.