A list of a company’s customers is an invaluable treasure that is crafted slowly. After 23 years, Glacier Products who are the makers of Kenya’s chocolate brand Dairyland, have, among other corportae entities, the United Nations as their customer.
Dipam Shah, the managing director, says they bought the company in 1995 from the original owners to make it bigger.
Indeed, Glacier Products, who value their Kenyan business turnover at Sh1 billion, are the makers of ice-cream, chocolate and whipping cream used for making cakes and lattes.
It was started in 1979 as a small scale ice-cream manufacturer on Nairobi’s Pemba Street.
“We took over in 1995 with the intention to grow this business and we have done just that,” said Mr Shah, an accountant by profession.
The first thing upon taking over was to revamp the company by introducing technology in its processes aimed at boosting volumes and churning out products that appeal to the end user, he said.
Comprehensive market research, investing in cold chains/delivery vans, re-training of workers and “keen focus on quality of the end product” were part of the revamp, the official said.
Its ice-creams come in varied forms, including corn, lollies and cup thanks to technology, he said.
“We are the only African manufacturer to pass the YUM Standards for [a global food firm in Nairobi] and we also meet ice-cream specifications to supply UN missions in Somalia, South Sudan and DR Congo,” Mr Shah said, revealing its prize customers.
The MD said they are certified “under the UKAS accrediation” for food safety, saying it has given them room to supply top clientele.
“The main reason we went for the FSSC 22000 certification was our genuine desire to to ensure that we offer our customers safe products,” said Mr Shah, who said the company has four food scientists in charge of quality assurance.
He added the certification has brought in multinationals who sign deals for supply of custom-made ice-creams.
The company has also partnered with Warner Bros whose images of well-known cartoon characters Glacier is using in new product line targeting children.
Eleven years after buying the company, it introduced Amore Mia (later known as Amore) as the premium brand. To cater for its lower cadre of customers, it unveiled its line of ice cream bars including Fiesta, Mini fiesta, Trio and Salted Caramel.
Glacier Products buys milk from farmers in Limuru and Kinangop and does 20,000 litres of ice cream a day.
Over the past seven years, the company has been investing Sh100 million annually, according to the managing director, to maintain standards, something that has earned them a Superbrands rating in East Africa.
It operates depots in Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, Kampala and Arusha and has 350 contract and permanent employees.
In 2015, the company introduced Chocolart, a chocolate brand after “we spotted a niche in the market for chocolate and started small scale, but we have since switched to doing it large scale.”
The chocolate plant located in Kikuyu produces a tonne daily, but targets four tonnes in the future, he said without giving a date.
Catering and contract manufacturing have served as sales drivers, where they manufacture and distributes fruit lollies for Del Monte Foods, the MD said.