No Freezer Burn as Yarnell's Ice Cream Grows With New Owners

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 12:00 am  

Two years after successfully reviving the Yarnell’s ice cream brand from bankruptcy, Schulze & Burch Biscuit Co. of Chicago is still cautious.

“We want to avoid any of the problems with bringing in projects that don’t have a profitable component to it,” said Kevin Boyle, the president and CEO of Schulze & Burch, which bought nearly all of the assets of Yarnell Ice Cream Co. of Searcy for $1.34 million in 2012.

Schulze & Burch has reason to be cautious. Acquiring the Yarnell’s brand was the Chicago company’s first entry into the ice cream market. Founded in 1923, Schulze & Burch produces items such as toaster pastries and granola bars.

And buying a business out of bankruptcy can either be a bargain or a headache for buyers.

“I think for the most part it would be a burden to most people to buy a bankrupt business,” said Bob Cantrell, executive broker at Cantrell-Griffin Business Brokers of Springdale. “There’s a lot of dreamers” who think they can turn around a business that’s been in bankruptcy and make it successful, Cantrell said. But it’s not easy, he said, because there’s a reason the company landed in bankruptcy in the first place.

Boyle, though, told Arkansas Business last week that he doesn’t suffer from buyer’s remorse. The Yarnell’s brand has seen “double-digit growth in our same-store sales over the last year,” he said, though he declined to give revenue numbers.

Boyle also said that Schulze & Burch will push to get private-label contracts to produce ice cream for other companies under their brand names. But he didn’t have a timetable for when that might happen. “We’re looking to fill some capacity at the plant with some strategic manufacturing partnerships,” he said.

Part of the success of the relaunch of the brand, Boyle said, can be tied to the ice cream guru who helped build Yarnell’s: Albert Yarnell, an inductee into the University of Arkansas’ Business Hall of Fame.

“He has been a tremendous resource,” Boyle said. “He’s provided invaluable counsel to us as we’ve brought the brand back.”

Even though Yarnell is not an employee, he has made sure the ice cream is “the same high quality that the brand had enjoyed,” Boyle said.

Yarnell, 90, told Arkansas Business last week that he has “nothing but good feelings” toward Schulze & Burch. “I’m happy to do whatever I can for them,” he said.

Yarnell also said that offering advice to Schulze & Burch “just seemed like the right thing to do” for a company that is located in his hometown.



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