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

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

Yarnell, a past president of the Searcy Chamber of Commerce, said, “It’s what I was trained to do my whole life.”

Acquiring Yarnell’s

Boyle wasn’t in the market to buy an ice cream company when he learned at the end of June 2011 that Yarnell’s had suddenly shut its doors after being in business for nearly 80 years. About 200 people were out of work.

Since 2008, Schulze & Burch has operated a 600,000-SF baking plant in Searcy, and Boyle thought there might be some workers with food manufacturing experience looking for a job. “Our interest was really just getting some employees to come over to the bakery,” Boyle said.

Yarnell’s blamed the closing on rising fuel costs and a difficult dessert industry. The company also was burdened with debt. When Yarnell’s filed for Chapter 7 liquidation in August 2011, its debts were $15.7 million against assets of only $8 million.

Boyle said Arkansas’ economic development officials encouraged him to consider buying Yarnell’s.

“We were kind of lukewarm on that,” he said. “We really didn’t want to get into the ice cream business.”

But the more he considered it, the more he realized there were a number of pluses with the Yarnell’s brand. And a big advantage to buying through the bankruptcy process was that Schulze & Burch wouldn’t be responsible for Yarnell’s debt.

It also wouldn’t have the expense of Yarnell’s truck fleet, which delivered ice cream for other companies.

Yarnell’s facility also was modern, Boyle said, and because it was close to the existing Schulze & Burch’s plant “we figured there were some good synergies in personnel.”

When employees weren’t needed to make ice cream, they could be transferred to the bakery and vice versa, he said. A number of Yarnell’s employees wanted to go back to work for Yarnell’s. “So we thought that was a real positive,” Boyle said.

An asset that came free was the love Arkansans had for the product. Arkansans referred to Yarnell’s as “the Arkansas ice cream,” Boyle said. “And we said, ‘Well, there’s probably something here in terms of the value of that brand.’”



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