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Velvet celebrates 100 years of ice cream making

Velvet celebrates 100 years of ice cream making
Posted May 1st, 2014 @ 4:58pm by WTVN Newsroom

UTICA, Ohio (WTVN) -- Joseph Dager began making ice cream in Utica back in 1914. 100 years later his family is churning out 5 million gallons of ice cream at Velvet and shipping it to 26 states.

"Only 3 percent of family businesses make it to the fourth generation, so we feel really, really blessed," said Luconda Dager, who is now president of the company her great-grandfather started.

Business has been booming for the ice cream company, despite the recent economic recession. They're now looking to expand further into markets like Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky.

"There's just some things they're not going to give up and ice cream is one of them. It's one of those comfort foods," she said.

There are plans to expand their picking freezer, possibly in the fall. That would mean not only more capacity, but also new jobs in the area.

"We really want to expand here in Utica at our corporate office," Dager said.

The past 100 years haven't been without struggle. In 1986, the company's famous Ye Olde Mill, which had opened to the public in 1970, caught fire and was destroyed. It was reopened a year later.

Today more than 150,000 people visit Ye Olde Mill where they can actually watch the ice cream being made.

"We decided to come out with 100 percent all-natural product for our 100th anniversary so we're taking it back to the way great-grandfather used to make it," Dager said.

She says innovation is something they constantly have to stay on top of to remain competitive.

"We have a panel of folks that watch what's going on in the grocery industry. We're always sampling our competition's products. Always sampling something on the east coast or the west coast and trying to bring it back to Ohio," said Dager.

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