Meet The Maker
When and why did you purchase Lopez Island Creamery?
I worked for a food brokerage out of college doing sales. There I was able to learn a bit about how sales and distribution in the food industry work. I also found out that it can be very difficult to sell a product that you are not passionate about. Growing up watching my stepdad run a custom home building company gave me an appreciation for the passion he had for his job. From watching this I think I grew a desire to run my own business one day. After a couple of years at the food brokerage, I thought I better get on with this dream and I started looking for a small business of my own. Lopez Island Creamery popped up in my search, so I contacted the owners, drove up to Anacortes, and learned a bit about ice cream. I quit my job and purchased Lopez Island Creamery, complete with 1 employee at the time. This all happened two weeks before my wedding. I figured I could impress my new in-laws another time.
Where do you make your Ice Cream?
We make all of our ice cream in Anacortes, WA. About an hour and a half north of Seattle.
How do you source your ingredients?
We source ingredients based on three main goals: Safety, Quality, and Location. We believe food safety should always be our top priority and we choose suppliers with stringent standards in place because of this. Quality, because we are a handmade, local, batch processed factory. It is really hard work to make an artisanal product like this and it would be crazy to scrimp on low quality ingredients. We want the best! We want local! It’s always our goal, some things of course are difficult such as sugar and cocoa powder but some are right in our back yard such as cream and berries. Luckily those two ingredients alone make up over 85% of our product.
What has been your biggest challenge along the way?
Growing any business can come with its challenges. Growing a company that creates a premium, handmade dessert feels at times impossible. Last year we moved into our third factory in the last 7 years, each one about 4 times bigger than the previous. There are too many challenges to count, and to be honest, I would find it stressful listing them all out. The challenge that we like to stay focused on is maintaining our product quality, safety and company culture. We continue to significantly improve all three but it takes constant effort.
What keeps you going?
Coffee, employees, customers, and then around 3pm another cup to push through the day. I am lucky to work with a really wonderful team here at Lopez Island Creamery. We all work hard to try and make each others’ jobs a little easier each day. Most importantly, the customers. It means so much to all of us to hear from people who are out there enjoying our ice cream.
What are your favorite things to pair with ice cream?
How dare you! Our ice cream holds its own in any bowl. Only kidding. If I had to, it would be some blueberry sauce from Bow Hill Blueberry Farm on top of an already great blueberry ice cream.
What’s the most satisfying thing about your job?
We are lucky enough to produce a product that people are passionate about. Customers are choosing our ice cream because they want to treat themselves to something special. We get so many comments, emails, and reviews from people who have tried and appreciate our ice cream. It is so satisfying to see that the effort you have put into a product is not going unnoticed. We recently started printing out and posting reviews in our breakroom for our team to see each day to make sure they get to share in the satisfaction of a happy customer.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
It’s important to not narrow your focus for too long on any one thing, because at any given time there may be something else that deserves more of your attention. Find a solution, preferably quickly, and move on.
What’s on the horizon for Lopez Island Creamery?
We fortunately have no shortage of ideas. The goal that I continue to come back to is I would like to see Lopez Island Creamery continue to strive to be one of the Pacific Northwest premier ice cream companies. We will keep making great ice cream and telling our story and we’ll see what happens.
What are your passions outside of work?
I have 2 awesome kids and a wonderful wife that I sometimes need to reintroduce myself to once our busy summer season is over. We love being outside crabbing in the summer and skiing at Mt. Baker in the winter.
How do you keep work/life balance?
I gave up on that goal some time ago. I think a better question is, how do I mesh it all together? Last weekend, our new ice cream shop on Lopez Island ran out of ice cream so my family and I took our little boat out to the island, delivered the ice cream, and rode our bikes around. It was a pretty great afternoon.