Yarnell's: 75 Years And Going Strong (Fifth Monday)

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Jul. 30, 2007 12:00 am  

Some of the faces behind Yarnell's, the 75-year-old ice cream company based in Searcy.

"Albert is a very active member of the First Baptist Church, and he has tried to utilize his Christian principles in his business relationships," Bell says. "And then Christina and Rogers have followed the pattern that was established by Mr. Ray and Hallie Rogers [and] that was giving back to the community."

"They're very goal-oriented," he adds. "Albert's philosophy has always been work hard, put everything back in the plant and everything else will take care of itself. And as far as Christina, she's been like a breath of fresh air. And I think that's been one of the keys. Every generation, there's been a new family member come in and revitalize things." Christina is a very compassionate person, Bell says. "I think she brings that compassion to her business dealings."

Indeed, as part of the celebration of the Yarnell company's 75th anniversary, it developed three new ice cream flavors, with 5 cents of every carton sold donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Governor Beebe has known the Yarnell family since moving to Searcy in 1972, has performed legal work for them and "I've had a personal friendship with Albert and Rogers and the entire family while I've lived in Searcy."

Beebe calls Yarnell's "one of the most stable and aggressive industries in the city of Searcy....Yarnell's has provided significant and stable employment for the people there, and the family has shared that success with Searcy."

As for its longevity, the governor says, "They have a quality product and take care of their customers....Good businesses last because they have a product that customers want, and they deliver it in a way that those customers like.... Being a family-owned company has helped Yarnell's keep their focus and high standards intact for 75 years."

Mike Black, purchasing agent at Yarnell's, has been with the company 14 years, working his way up from the "mix room" making ice cream mix.

Ask him what he likes about working there, and the answer seems in no way forced:

"It's a team atmosphere, and we make a product that truly, truly is a joy for customers. Many things in life are needed, useful, but when you tell somebody you produce ice cream, that is something that brings a joy to them, and it's great to be part of a team that is pretty much joy-producers."

As for its being a family-run business: "It makes it much more personal," Black says. "Many companies, you never know the owners, never see them face to face. You certainly would not be able to express concerns to them. Here everyone is in town. If there is something that we're really facing, we can all get together and you can get decisions straight from the top without having to go through a lot of corporate red tape to get there. You know the decision is final. You're never wondering where you stand. And it's a company small enough that if we want to make a change it happens rather quickly instead of being filibustered forever."

Finally, all the employees get free ice cream. That is simple, and a simple joy.

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