Nestled in the heart of the ice cream industry, TEC Canada Member,Kristine Hayes, President ofShaw’s Ice Cream, weaves a story that’s as sweet as the treats she produces. From its modest beginning in a humble ice cream shop to the flourishing business it has become today, the McLaughlin sisters have forged a sweet success story, one scoop at a time.
Their journey stands as a testament to the enduring strength of family bonds, perseverance, and the invaluable philosophy of “learning by doing,” a principle that has been further enriched through Kristine’s membership with TEC Canada. The impact of insights, strategies, and collaborative wisdom shared within the TEC community has helped to develop and grow Shaw’s Ice Cream, sweetening the recipe for their continued success.
Discover more about Kristine and Shaw’s Ice Cream.
Early Lesson in Business and Growth
Kristine had her first job at the young age of 13. Her father owned a small building company with an ice cream shop out the front, which was being leased out and its owner was on the brink of retirement. Recognizing a distinctive opportunity to impart valuable business skills to his six daughters through hands-on experience, he made the decision to involve them.
Among the sisters, ranging from ages six to 16, Kristine stood in the middle of the pack. Around their schooling, each one played a vital role in the ice cream business, equipping them with the intricacies of running a business and cultivating essential skills, such as problem-solving, business management, and the art of sales. Fueled by a strong family ethos of “learning by doing.”
As Kristine fondly recollects, it was like running a lemonade stand, albeit with the added complexity of serving ice cream. Their responsibilities spanned various tasks, from supply ordering to schedule management and handling the tills. Kristine credits her parents to allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them, offering guidance when needed but giving them the autonomy to run the business themselves. Her initial involvement in the ice cream shop helped her overcome shyness and develop essential people skills, vital for any business. With eager customers lining up for ice cream, it provided an ideal environment for personal growth.
Reviving Shaw’s Ice Cream: A Bold Venture
After finishing high school, Kristine went on to attend Western. However, things took a surprising turn when they received news that Shaw’s Ice Cream – an establishment in Southwest Ontario, would be closing down. Shaw’s had transitioned from a family business to a large corporation with declining support, leading to its closure. She convinced her sisters, Kim and Kelly, to help buy and revive Shaw’s.
“There was no question of whether we would succeed or not. It never crossed our minds.”
Family Scoop Shop
Moved to New Facility
Joined TEC Canada
Churning Dreams into Reality
Their journey was not without its challenges. Learning the art of making ice cream and navigating the complexities of the dairy industry presented significant hurdles. Each sister found her niche in the business. Kim transitioned from a truck driver to managing procurement and production scheduling, while Kelly remained focused on sales and marketing, handling relationships with national grocery chains, small scoop shops, and the company’s retail locations. Kristine took on accounting and production responsibilities and became the financial backbone of the operation, overseeing bookkeeping, accounting, and ingredient orders.
In the early days of their business, everyone pitched in to make ice cream, typically on designated days of the week. The team included Susan (originally from Shaw’s), who was responsible for ice cream production and helping them figure out how to turn on the equipment, and a group of about 12 students managing the retail shop at the front.
As Shaw’s Ice Cream continued to expand and diversify, each sister’s role naturally evolved, adapting to the changing needs of their thriving business. Over the years, Shaw’s expanded its offerings to include co-manufacturing for other brands, introduced new flavours, and fostered innovation. Recognizing the need for a new production facility, the decision to build a larger facility marked a significant turning point. It was during this time of expansion that Kristine sought a mentor and a means to enhance her leadership skills, propelling their business forward.
TEC’s Guiding Hand in Shaping a New Business Era
”As much as I’ve been doing this for 22 years, there was a lot of formative growing for myself that needed to happen, during this time. We were looking around saying, what’s our next step here? And this is where the really big turning point for us was, to make the decision to grow – it’s been like starting a brand-new business. For me, when we moved into this new larger production facility, it was fate that one of our suppliers said ‘I’ve been a member of TEC Canada for most of my career and I think that you guys need this too’. That was the first time that either any of us had heard of TEC Canada and it was exactly what was needed. Then before I could think, my [now TEC Chair] Rick Sterne is practically knocking on my door saying, ‘hey, I’m starting a new group in the area’. Now, having been in TEC for the last two years, it’s had such a great influence on how I look at our business today.”
The support and guidance from TEC Canada has played a pivotal role in shaping their business perspective. Kristine emphasized the significance of her close relationship with her sisters, describing them as a “three-legged stool,” with each sister’s role being essential to the collective strength of the business. Through TEC Canada, Kristine has acquired valuable insights into business growth and management, and has learned what it takes to be a great leader, allowing her to apply her new found knowledge to Shaw’s and lead her sisters and the business toward success.
“Because small businesses don’t have to stay small. They can grow into something larger. And that’s really what I’ve been reflecting on over the last little bit, is where we’ve come from and where we’re headed to.
The support that we get through an organization like TEC is wonderful. I bring back what I’ve learned from guest speakers and share it with my sisters, the three of us are incredibly tight. So it’s been fun for all of us being able to grow and learn with the experience and guidance I get from TEC in each session. The number of things that I’ve learned through my group and the support I have received has been unimaginable.”
Navigating a Competitive Market with Unique Tradition
When asked about what makes Shaw’s Ice Cream unique in a competitive market, Kristine emphasized their dedication to creating memorable experiences. For them, it’s not just about selling ice cream; it’s about becoming a part of cherished memories. This realization has led them to focus on their branding and packaging, setting themselves apart from the competition. In terms of competition in the market, Shaw’s Ice Cream has chosen to stay true to its identity. Their focus on traditional, full-fat ice cream for family gatherings sets them apart from those chasing trends or fads in the industry. The brand’s nostalgia and dedication to authenticity have solidified its position in the market.
One key aspect of their uniqueness is their playful and imaginative approach to ice cream flavours and branding. They create flavors like “Unicorn” and “Lumberjack,” demonstrating a willingness to take creative risks that larger companies might shy away from.
Kristine is quick to respond that sometimes things haven’t gone to plan such as when a new flavour didn’t work out. But it’s during these times they faltered away from their core business and mistakes occurred when they tried to become something they were not. Admitting that it’s essential to accept when something doesn’t work and gracefully move on rather than forcing a concept that doesn’t resonate with their customers.
Shaw’s Ice Cream: An Authentic Recipe for Success
Shaw’s Ice Cream’s evolution has been evident to the importance of authenticity and remaining true to their brand. Their willingness to experiment and pay forward their knowledge has allowed them to thrive and set themselves apart in a very competitive industry. Just like their ice cream, Shaw’s journey is a sweet success.
Shaw’s Ice Cream delivers the ultimate connection for quality ice cream and frozen indulgences to wholesale, retail, and private label customers. Bringing families and communities together to enjoy the simple tradition of sharing a moment together.
Kristine Hayes, President of Shaw’s Ice Cream, is among 1,900+ TEC members across Canada. What’s holding you back? Take the first step to becoming a TEC member today by filling out the short form below.