Scaling Up a Santa Barbara Ice Cream Legend
(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- McConnell’s is a California treasure. Founded in 1949 by Mac and Ernesteen McConnell in Santa Barbara, it’s won generations of loyal fans. But by 2012 the business was struggling and the then-owner, Jim McCoy, asked a friend, Michael Palmer, to help. Putting McConnell’s on a path to growth would require new flavors, new products, new standards—and a new dairy. “The old building wasn’t built to do what we were asking of it, in terms of food volume, safety, efficiency, and consistency,” Palmer says. But he and his wife and partner Eva Ein took on the challenge and bought the business. They’ve moved it forward the way they believe the founding family would have, producing nearly every ingredient that goes into the all-natural, made-from-scratch ice cream themselves. Over the past six years, McConnell’s has expanded beyond California, into markets throughout the U.S. “It’s not a job for hire,” Palmer says. “It’s our lives.”
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