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Wells Enterprises seeks capital to be No. 1

Thursday, August 2, 2012

(Photo)
(Photo contributed) Wells Enterprises is pursuing financing to become the No. 1 ice cream company in America. The Le Mars-based family-owned and operated ice cream maker expects to complete the process by the end of the year, according to a company statement.
Wells Enterprises, Plymouth County's largest employer, is trying to raise money to become the largest ice cream company in America.

As Wells approaches the 100th anniversary of business next year, the ice cream maker is third in the nation.

The plan to raise capital to grow the business to No. 1 was announced in a statement the company issued Wednesday.

Wells was responding to a Daily Sentinel question about a financial publication's report of a possible sale of the family-owned and operated ice cream maker.

Raising money is consistent with the ice cream maker's vision to become No. 1 in the nation by 2020, the company stated in written information.

The process of raising money for growth is expected to be completed by the end of 2012, the company stated.

Wells is currently the third largest ice cream maker, behind Nestle and Unilever, according to CEO Mike Wells in a presentation to the Downtown Sioux City Rotary Club last year.

Wells spokesman Dave Smetter said Wells was looking at "all the options to secure capital to fund growth before deciding which one is right."

Until the process is concluded, Wells can't speculate on any specific outcome of the move to raise capital for growth such as a sale of the business, he added.

In responding to questions about raising capital, the company also stated "a strong platform has been built from which to expand the business."

"We are excited to undertake this process (to raise capital) as we continue to develop high quality, innovative products for our customers," according to the company statement.

Wells is the largest family-owned and operated ice cream manufacturer in the United States.

The company makes Blue Bunny ice cream and frozen novelties at two facilities in Le Mars and an ice cream plant in St. George, Utah.

The company's headquarters is in Le Mars.

More than 2,500 production, sales office and support staff are employed by Wells

The company achieved the goal of third largest in the U.S. after putting in place a strategy that focused on its core business of ice cream production.

The dairy's milk plant in Le Mars was sold to Dean Foods in December 2007 and an Omaha production facility was sold to a yogurt business in 2008.

The dairy's manufacturing had expanded to Utah with construction of the St. George ice cream plant, which opened in 2003.

Fred Hooker Wells Jr. founded the company in 1913 with the purchase of a horse and a milk wagon for a milk delivery business in Le Mars.

The company statement about financial plans cited the nearly 100-year history.

"We look forward to building on that tradition as our company takes this next step to grow the business and position Wells for the next 100 years," the company stated.



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