People Moving Product

Selling happiness

Rural entrepreneurs look to change world through ice cream

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LONSDALE, Minn. — One word comes out of the mouths of the pair of owners of Udder Buddies again and again: happiness. 

“We want to do something to change the world, and we’re putting a smile on people’s faces,” said Jamieson Lindquist. 

Lindquist and Kevin Korbel, who both grew up in generational farm families, own Udder Buddies, a new, premium ice cream brand in southern Minnesota. They specialize in vanilla, and their product is sold at four stores. 

Udder Buddies sources its milk from the University of Minnesota dairy herd. In the future, the partners hope to use milk from the 40-cow herd operated by Korbel’s family. Eventually, they want to expand to purchase milk from other local herds as well.

Korbel said the low prices seen earlier this year were a tipping point for wanting to start the business.

“If it’s going be like this — prices comparable to the ‘80s — we have to make a change,” Korbel said.

Lindquist said their brand can be part of the solution.

“We want to help raise the prices of milk for dairy farmers,” he said. “We can pay our dairy farmers more per hundredweight and offer more consistent prices.”

Lindquist is a sixth-generation farmer. His parents have had a vineyard for 20 years.

To make the ice cream, Lindquist said they use more vanilla, put in less air and have a high butterfat content.

“It’s a premium product,” Lindquist said. “We do one thing, and we do one thing really, really well: We make ice cream for ice cream lovers. ... There’s nothing happier than people eating ice cream.”

The pair’s business all began as Korbel, who had finished a job in the wine industry, was looking to work for himself. Korbel started talking to Lindquist, who he has known since they were in high school. Lindquist started asking Korbel questions about what he was looking to do. 

The friends decided ice cream production could fit the niche of Korbel’s mission to spread joy. 

They first attempted to make ice cream with Lindquist’s grandpa’s ice cream maker. For their first trial batch, they made strawberry ice cream sweetened with honey. 

“It was literally the worst ice cream we ever had in our entire lives,” Korbel said. 

The pair, who are both under 30, went to YouTube to learn about ice cream. Their next batch was much more successful and used sugar as a sweetener to simplify the process.

Their next 10 batches were spent trying to perfect the recipe and make it producible on a large scale.

Lindquist and Korbel currently make their ice cream at the University of Minnesota Joseph J. Warthesen Food Processing Center. They stumbled onto the facility through a Google search for, “Best ice cream in Minnesota.”

At the pilot plant, staff helped Lindquist and Korbel perfect the recipe.

“We’re going to find the people smarter than us,” Lindquist said. “That’s our superpower. ... (If) we don’t know something, we will talk to enough people until we find somebody who knows the answer.”

The pair also went to other businesses to learn about the industry. 

“If you’ll come and do work for free, people will teach you whatever you want,” Lindquist said.

In August, Udder Buddies made and sold its first official one-half batch. Each batch is about 100 gallons, depending on the butterfat level of the milk and air whipped in. They make ice cream every couple of months.

Their ice cream saw quick success. Korbel, who is in charge of marketing, told their story on Facebook. Their page jumped to 1,000 followers in two days. Their first batch of ice cream sold out in one week.

The pair said that an owner of a gas station that carries their product as well as other local brands told them that their ice cream exhibited the fastest growth in sales they have had in a brand at their store. 

In addition to stores, they also host events. They hosted a harvest party at Korbel’s farm with a grant from Midwest Dairy.

“I’ve had ice cream on great days, and I’ve had an ice cream on really bad days,” Korbel said. “We get to see people for that 10 minutes that they’re actually happy.”

The pair named their brand Udder Buddies in a nod to their friendship. Their logo is an ice cream cone topped with a cow’s udder. The design was Lindquist’s idea, but Korbel put together the final design.

Both Lindquist and Korbel are engaged in other ventures outside of Udder Buddies. Lindquist owns a vineyard management company and is starting a winery with another partner. Korbel works on his family’s dairy farm alongside his siblings — who also have outside work — and his parents.

“Sometimes, I need to make it a whole ice cream day where it’s my sole focus,” Korbel said. “Other days, I had to table it for a little bit and drop everything and jump into a tractor.”

Next year, Korbel said they hope to be in more stores within a 100-mile radius. Currently, their product is available in Lonsdale, New Prague, Montgomery and Northfield.

Eventually, as they grow, they will look for a co-packer where they can process their ice cream once they outgrow the university’s facility. 

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