Though it's been a rocky road raising the tin roof over Smith's new $14 million ice cream plant in Layton, company officials are confident there'll be a pot of gold at the end of their rainbow sherbet.
Opened in November, the new state-of-the-art plant is producing about 100,000 gallons of ice cream per week. That's a yearly total of more than 5 million gallons."We're at about one-third capacity," said Bob Lee, Smith's dairy operations manager. The $15 million in gross sales the company expects to see this year will likely increase as new stores open in Southern California.
Lee said he believes the plant will be at full capacity - 16 million gallons per year - by the end of this decade.
The ice cream plant - which makes 75 different products in 25 different flavors - is really only an addition to Smith's dairy operations, which put out about 450,000 gallons of other dairy products, everything from skim milk to sour cream.
All the dairy products, made with Utah milk, are packaged under the Smith's label and trucked to all 95 Smith's stores.
Lee boasts that the plant is one of the most modern ice cream facilities in the nation and rivals some in Europe. Ice cream industry officials from Taiwan and Japan have already visited the plant, as have representatives from some big East-coast ice cream companies.
And the product has gotten good reviews. Two U.S. universities gave Smith's premium grade ice cream a score of 9.5 on a 10 scale for flavor and a score of 5 on a 5 scale for body and texture.
"We've gone at great expense to build the plant, which is absolutely going to put out the best product," Lee said.