Dippin' Dots ice cream
Dippin' Dots makes flash-frozen ice cream and frozen treats.

PADUCAH, KY. — Strategic partnerships with other well-known brands coupled with a fresh focus on developing a strong franchisee base have helped Dippin’ Dots, L.L.C. drive sales growth. The Paducah-based maker of flash-frozen ice cream and frozen treats said sales of its core ice cream products increased more than 60% between 2013 and 2015, and the company expects an additional 25% sales growth in 2016, to about $250 million.

Scott Fisher, Dippin' Dots
Scott Fischer, c.o.o. of Dippin’ Dots parent company Fischer Enterprises

“As an iconic brand with strong name recognition and consumer loyalty, Dippin’ Dots is the cornerstone of our snack food portfolio,” said Scott Fischer, chief operating officer of Fischer Enterprises, the Oklahoma City-based private equity firm that has owned Dippin’ Dots since late 2012. “The flash-frozen beaded ice cream was a groundbreaking product when it was invented more than 25 years ago. Since the acquisition, we have maintained the company’s unique brand while making the product more easily available and marketing to a new generation.”

Domestic franchising has been a key component of Dippin’ Dots’ success, the company said. Year-over-year franchising revenue grew by more than 45% in 2015 and is ahead of that pace in 2016, according to the company. Dippin’ Dots said it plans to add about 10 new franchise owners in 2016.

“Our franchise philosophy emphasizes quality over quantity,” said Steve Rothenstein, senior director of franchising at Dippin’ Dots Franchising L.L.C. “We strive to help our franchisees develop their business over the long term by giving them the resources and expertise they need to succeed. The nearly 50% increase in our franchising revenue reflects the profitability of our model for both our franchisees and the company.”

Dippin' Dots Doc Popcorn booth at mall
Dippin' Dots operates co-branded outlets with Doc Popcorn, maker of fresh-popped, kettle-cooked flavored popcorn.

Growth at Dippin’ Dots also is being driven by the company’s co-branding initiative with Doc Popcorn. Acquired by Fischer Enterprises in 2014, Doc Popcorn specializes in fresh-popped, kettle-cooked flavored popcorn. The two companies operate co-branded outlets in Springfield, Mo.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Green Bay, Wis.; Las Vegas; and the greater Chicago area. An additional 15 co-branded units are expected to open in 2016, the company said.

Dippin’ Dots also remain a major presence at stadiums (the company’s products are available in about 66% of Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball stadiums across the United States), theaters and theme parks. From 2013 to 2015, the company said it added 350 new accounts, which helped drive non-franchised sales by more than 33% over the same period.

Looking to the future, Dippin’ Dots said it is pursuing a multi-pronged distribution strategy geared toward expanding beyond its traditional outlets. To that end, the company, along with Doc Popcorn, last year entered a partnership to expand into Fabulous Freddy’s carwash/convenience stores throughout the southwestern United States. Additionally, the company’s grab-and-go packs now are available in nearly 7,000 select convenience and drug stores nationwide, including Fred’s, Weis Markets and regional locations of Circle K and 7-Eleven.

“The Dippin’ Dots brand is known and recognized by consumers around the globe,” said Michael Barrette, vice-president of marketing and sales. “By growing our presence geographically and outside of our traditional outlets, we are appealing to a broader base of customers both in the U.S. and abroad.”