The company that made northwest Iowa the "ice cream capital of the world" is making some changes. Wells’ Dairy will sell its milk plant in LeMars and focus on its ice cream and frozen products. Wells’ is also exploring the sale of its yogurt plant in Omaha, Nebraska.
Wells’ spokesman Dave Smetter says the new owner of the LeMars milk plant is Dean Foods of Dallas, Texas. Smetter says, "We’ve made a strategic decision to focus all of our efforts and resources on our core business of making quality ice cream."
About 180 of Wells’ Dairy’s 2,500 employees are associated with the milk plant in operations, sales, support, or as drivers. Smetter says Dean Foods is interviewing those workers and considering them for positions with Dean Foods.
Smetter says: "It’s certainly our hope those are all transitioned with the new company. Dean Foods is very open to including all of those employees into their company because they certainly want to provide a quality workforce for their plans for that plant."
Smetter says the focus puts Wells’ in the best position to reach the goal to become a top three national brand in ice cream and frozen novelties. He says: "By doing this strategic decision, it ensures the long term viability of the company. It puts us in a much stronger position to compete in the ice cream business from a nationwide perspective. You know, to achieve any type of success today our ultra competitive industry, in the ice cream industry, we have to concentrate our sales, our marketing and manufacturing efforts on the single focus of making quality ice cream and frozen novelties."
A transitional agreement of 30 to 90 days was made by Wells’ and Dean Foods. The Dallas firm expects to close the deal for the plant built in 1963 by the end of the year or shortly after that. Wells’ is Plymouth County’s largest employer. Dean Foods is the largest processor and distributor of milk and other dairy products in the United States. The Texas firm has about 27-thousand employees and 100 plants.