Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dining through the Decades: The beginning of a business

Marvin makes his first delivery and sets the tone for customer service

April 18, 2017 — To celebrate our 65th anniversary this year, we are sharing some of our favorite moments in our company’s rich history.

Our journey began 65 years ago on March 18, 1952, when a 23-year-old Marvin Schwan loaded his 1946 Dodge panel truck with 14 gallons of his family’s signature ice cream and set out to deliver it to families in western Minnesota. By the end of his trip, all 14 gallons of ice cream were sold and our home-delivery business was born.

It sounds simple, yet there is no doubt that Marvin’s will and perseverance were strong forces in his success launching what was to become a leading food company in the United States. To serve customers and help his home-delivery business grow, he would wake up at 3 a.m. each day to pack his truck with ice cream; by 7 a.m., he would be well on his way to delivering to his customers.

According to our company’s Manager of Records and Information Management Brenda Bormann, Marvin was determined to make his idea work and had to overcome many challenges. During Marvin’s first year on the road, he frequently became stuck in the mud and snow on country roads and endured 22 flat tires.

He was so committed to reaching customers that on one cold day in the early 1950s, when Marvin’s delivery vehicle was in for repair, he opted for making deliveries in a Packard motor car. Marvin packed the car with ice cream in the backseat and trunk and then drove his route with the heater off and windows down so the ice cream would not melt.

Customers took note of Marvin’s commitment. By the spring of 1953, he had more customers on his delivery routes than he could handle by himself with an old panel truck. He bought his first refrigerated vehicle that year, a three-quarter-ton Ford. An artist friend, Milford Paxton, painted the truck a creamy yellow (later trademarked Inca Gold™) and added a newly created logo.

With that, the Schwan’s truck was established and Schwan’s home-delivery business was on its way to becoming the largest direct-to-home deliverer of frozen foods in the nation. Marvin, at this point in his career, would leave with 120 gallons of ice cream, and most — if not all of it — was sold by day’s end.

“Dining through the decades” is a blog series commemorating our company’s 65 years of commitment, quality, growth and service with customers, consumers and employees all across the United States. We invite you to stay tuned throughout the year as we continue to share some of our company’s best stories and highlights of how we got to where we are now.

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