SKOWHEGAN, MAINE – A little more than a year after a fire destroyed Gifford’s Ice Cream’s Skowhegan, Maine, production facility, the premium dairy maker shared it is once again making ice cream at the plant.

Before the facility was back up and running, Gifford’s shared, the company had to use out-of-state co-packers to meet customer demand.

“Nothing can prepare you for what we experienced on February 2nd last year,” said Lindsay Skilling, chief executive officer for Gifford’s. “The damage was so extensive we had to take most of our factory and offices down to the studs. It has been a year of pivoting and problem solving.”

The facility resumed production in early February with test batches. The company’s leadership revealed that for the time being it is making use of a production area about 30% smaller, until the factory is fully restored. Currently the scaled back operation has two running lines for quarts and bulks that go to wholesale customers.

While the rebuild of Gifford’s offices and larger production area is ongoing, the company said it is prioritizing the production of fan favorite flavors, such as Toasted Coconut and Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt, that its co-packers were unable to make in 2023.

“We can say now that the path forward hasn’t always been clear,” Skilling said. “But we never questioned our commitment to coming back stronger and better than ever. We’re not at full production capacity yet, and we’ll be working hard to build our production capabilities and inventory levels over the next several months, but I can say it feels great to be making our own ice cream again in Skowhegan.”

Chief operating officer JC Gifford said the facility can only produce certain flavors for the time being because its process for some of its products’ bases and ripples can’t be duplicated by co-packers.

“Our first run of Toasted Coconut and Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt should start to hit grocery stores by mid-March,” Gifford said. “This is a first step in our journey to get these long-awaited flavors back into the hands of our customers. We will continue to update our retailers as we ramp up production and notify customers of flavor availability through our social media channels, company newsletter and in person at our family-owned stands.”

The company plans to bring more production in house in the months ahead and rebuild its inventory levels as it aims to return to full production by the end of 2024.

Along with returning to normalcy at the facility, Skilling also teased “a few more surprises” that have yet to be revealed.

“Despite the challenges of the year, we’ve been able to keep our entire team employed, and I’m proud and grateful for their perseverance,” Skilling said. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of our family members, partners and our loyal customers.”