If someone likes quality, rich ice cream, one teaspoonful of Whidbey Island Ice Cream is enough to make the taster proclaim, “This is the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted!” The current owners of the company, Ron and Florence Hecker, believe that the quality of the ingredients, the method of manufacture and the care put into the products makes the difference.
The company was founded in 2005 by Mike and Mary Rudd, longtime residents of Whidbey Island and longtime friends of Ron and Florence. In 2006, the Ruuds asked Ron and Florence if they would like to be representatives for Whidbey Island Ice Cream at the Ballard Farmer’s Market. The Heckers, who were both retired, figured this would be a fun thing to do one day a week.
In two years, the ice cream was available in six farmer’s markets. The following summer (2008), the ice cream was in twelve markets, and Ron and Florence were playing ever increasing roles in the growing success of the ice cream.
When Mike and Mary passed away in 2009, the Heckers, who were involved in the business, purchased the assets the 2010. Ron says, “We liked the challenge.”
Some would say they have already far exceeded any challenge. The Heckers have managed to double production every year since taking over. They expect to sell 125,000 pints of ice cream in 2013. They have ramped up production of their ice cream bars, which now come in 35 flavors, and they expect to sell over a quarter million bars this year.
Whidbey Island Ice Cream is now sold in more than 150 stores from the Canadian border to Eugene, Oregon, and in close to 20 farmer’s markets in the Greater Puget Sound Area. .
The Heckers say they do want to retire someday, and they have a plan for an easy transition to new owners: Son-in-law Cliff Johnston is in charge of production, and daughter Barbara is their bookkeeper.
But, for now, retirement seems to mean running double shifts in the summer months, as they just did, to respond to heavy demand (13,000 pints for a major chain that did a special promotion).
They also believe that as more people have that first teaspoon of Whidbey Island Ice Cream, the demand can only keep growing.
To learn the latest flavors and where Whidbey Island Ice Cream can be purchased, visit the website.