Schwan’s Company has announced a year-long celebration of its 65th anniversary. The company was founded on March 18, 1952, when a 23-year-old Marvin Schwan loaded up 14 gallons of ice cream from the Schwan’s Dairy into a road-weary Dodge panel van and began selling it to customers in rural Minnesota. Today, the foods of Schwan’s Company can be found wherever consumers eat across the United States.
Since Marvin’s first ride, the company has grown to become a leader in the frozen-food industry. Schwan’s legacy home-delivery business delivers more than 300 delicious foods nationwide, its direct-to-store business offers trusted brands in grocery stores and other retail outlets, and its food-service business provides foods to venues such as schools, restaurants and convenience stores.
“I believe that Marvin Schwan would be proud that his entrepreneurial spirit still drives us today,” said CEO Dimitrios Smyrnios. “We are committed to continue building on our legacy of making of high-quality, indulgent-to-wholesome food and driving innovation that will enable our company to grow in new and exciting ways. I’m proud of what our company and people have accomplished and excited about where Schwan’s is heading with our employees, customers and consumers.”
The company will celebrate its rich heritage throughout 2017 with company and product brand renovations, employee events, social media story-telling, Schwan’s Chef Collective customer and consumer engagements, new charitable commitments, and by serving as a founding partner to the 2018 Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee.
Throughout the company’s history, it has relied on finding innovative ways to reach customers with its delicious foods and quality services.
In an archived speech about the start of the company, Marvin Schwan once told employees: “I wanted to make a living. I wanted to be successful. I noticed to the county north of here that ice cream was 14 cents a gallon higher than it was in Marshall (Minnesota); and I noticed farmers were starting to get home freezers. I thought, well, maybe farmers might buy ice cream right off the truck.”
Paying attention to employees’ ideas and monitoring consumer trends led to many other innovations throughout the years. Although the Schwan’s home-delivery business in the early 1950s focused mainly on dairy products, Marvin began steadily adding items from other categories. Today, the company’s home-delivery business, Schwan’s Home Service, Inc., offers more than 300 foods on its website at www.Schwans.com.
In the 1960s, Marvin took the advice of one of his sales managers and added pizza to his delivery routes. The product became so popular that the company purchased the Tony’s pizza brand and manufacturing facility in 1970. The pizza platform has been an ongoing success, with the company launching Red Baron pizza in 1976 and Freschetta pizza in 1996. The company also added pizza and other foods in food-service venues such as school cafeterias in 1975.
In the 1980s, Marvin entered the Asian-style foods category with the purchase of a Houston area egg roll plant. The company has since grown to become the No. 1 provider of Asian-style snacks in the country with the Pagoda and Minh brands.
The company has worked to continue to meet the needs of consumers. In 2001, the company purchased Edwards pies and the brand has steadily grown to become the leading crème pie brand in the United States. The company also owns and markets Mrs. Smith’s fruit pies.
Becoming a national food company
Today, as a food company that serves millions throughout the country through its home-delivery, grocery and food-service channels, Schwan’s Company is focused on meeting the needs of today’s busy consumers with convenient and delicious foods.
In 2016, the company launched the Schwan’s Chef Collective — a team of internal and external chefs from across the United States who are developing the next generation of Schwan’s foods. Each member brings a unique perspective and is tasked with scouting emerging ingredients, cooking methods and global cuisines to continually influence innovation.
The company also announced several food simplicity commitments in 2015. As a part of the initiative, the company removed partially hydrogenated oils and artificial trans fats, artificial (certified) dyes and high-fructose corn syrup. The company has also committed to eliminating artificial flavors by the end of this year.
Back to the future
During the company’s 65th anniversary, the evolution of Schwan’s will continue. New branding was recently launched for the parent company and its home-delivery business. The rebranding efforts include companion logos featuring the company and brand name, along with an updated swan that has been featured on company logos since the old Schwan’s Dairy in the 1940s. The logos were designed to be more modern and inviting to customers. In addition, The Schwan Food Company will now be known as Schwan’s Company. Schwan’s was the shortened name of the company for more than 50 years until it was changed to The Schwan Food Company in 2003. Most customers, consumers and employees still refer to the company as Schwan’s today.
Long-standing commitment to giving back
Schwan’s also has a legacy of giving back and will continue to support the communities where the company operates by investing in new programs in 2017. Schwan’s and Schwan’s Corporate Giving Foundation strives to improve the quality of life in communities where Schwan’s employees live and work. The foundation focuses on exceptional efforts to end hunger, promote youth education and leadership development, and provide essential services that advance healthier communities. The company and the foundation proudly support Feeding America and the University of Minnesota’s Women Invested Leadership and Learning (WILL) program. Among other community organizations, the foundation supports Southwest Minnesota State University and a scholarship program for employee children.
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