Velvet Ice Cream has opened the largest expansion capital improvement in the company’s 102-year history.
Velvet broke ground on the new 23,000-s.f. expansion, with a price tag of more than $3 million, last August. The expansion adds a new state-of-the-art warehouse freezer distribution facility to Velvet’s central Ohio plant at Ye Olde Mill in Utica, more than doubling the company’s freezing and picking capacity. On the heels of significant expansion into Kentucky and other markets, demand for Velvet Ice Cream has grown, taking the company from $25 million in revenue in 2009 to more than $30 million in 2014. As a result, last summer, Velvet was nearly at capacity with its former distribution facility.
“Our expansion allows us to improve sustainability, sharpen efficiencies and produce more delicious Velvet Ice Cream in order to meet increased demand,” said Velvet Ice Cream President Luconda Dager. “But it also positions us well for future growth and expansion.”
Dager helped the more than 100 attendees at the expansion ribbon cutting this week to better understand the project’s size, sharing the following details on the new facility:
- The new freezer distribution addition keeps Velvet Ice Cream at 20 degrees below zero;
- It holds 3.2 million cartons of Velvet Ice Cream. That would fill 80 tractor trailers with Velvet product and is equal to 1,920 pallets; and
- The Velvet Freezer team walks a quarter of a mile for every order they pick. In one year of work, that’s like walking from Utica to Las Vegas and back.
Velvet Ice Cream worked with the Licking County, Ohio-based Robertson Construction as general contractor for the project, which took 14 months to complete. Currently employing a staff of 125, Velvet’s new distribution facility initially will require the addition of eight new employees in its picking and shipping operations. However, the development enables the company further to expand production as new accounts are acquired, which is expected to 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 makes 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 foodservice partners.