A Foundation for Success

On Tuesday, March 18, 1952, a 23-year-old Marvin Schwan packed his beat-up 1946 Dodge panel van with 14 gallons of his family's signature ice cream and delivered it to rural families in western Minnesota. At the end of that historic trip, all 14 gallons were sold and the Schwan home-delivery business was born.

Today, The Schwan Food Company is a multibillion-dollar private company with more than 12,000 employees who are passionate about bringing quality foods to millions of people every day. Based in Minnesota, the company sells fine frozen foods on its traditional delivery trucks, in grocery-store freezers and in the food-service industry.

Location

Paul and Alma Schwan and their 19-year-old son, Marvin, buy out a partner and start the Schwan's Dairy in Marshall, Minnesota.

View Image > 1948
Truck

On Tuesday, March 18, 1952, a 23-year-old Marvin Schwan makes a delivery that would change his life and the lives of countless others. He packs his 1946 Dodge panel van with dry ice and 14 gallons of ice cream and heads north out of Marshall, Minnesota, to sell his family's premium ice cream. At the end of the day, he sells all 14 gallons and the home delivery business is born.

View Image > 1952
Paintbrush

Marvin buys his first refrigerated vehicle, a three-quarter-ton Ford. An artist friend, Milford Paxton, paints the truck a creamy yellow (later trademarked as the Inca Gold ® color) and added a logo. At this time, Marvin was selling about 120 gallons of ice cream per day. Marvin also hires his company's first "career" route salesman.

View Image > 1953
Snowflake

Marvin begins his plans for expansion. He locates his first permanent distribution depot outside of Marshall, a 16-by-24-foot freezer warehouse located in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, allowing for additional routes.

View Image > 1956
Droplet

Melting snow and spring rains cause the Redwood River to rise to record levels, flooding many homes and businesses, including Schwan's Dairy. Employees pitch in to clean up the five inches of silt that had settled on the floors of the dairy.

View Image > 1957
Cup

Route trucks begin carrying the company's first non-dairy product—a juice concentrate under the Vita-Sun® brand name.

View Image > 1957
Fish

Marvin added fish to the home delivery offerings. By this time, the company was expanding rapidly, operating in eight states by 1963. After 10 years of business, the company had grown to more than $4.5 million in revenues and 83 trucks were on the road.

View Image > 1962
Briefcase

The company is incorporated as Schwan's Sales Enterprises, Inc., and Marvin's older brother, Alfred, joins the company. Marvin's younger brother, Robert, had also been working for the company since 1948.

View Image > 1964
Pizza

The company begins manufacturing ice-cream drumsticks and sandwiches. It also ventures into frozen pizza when a Wisconsin salesman begins selling frozen pizza from route trucks.

View Image > 1966
Acquisition

After acquiring Todd's Foods, the company begins producing sandwiches for its food-delivery routes.

View Image > 1969
Location

The company runs an ad in the Wall Street Journal with a simple headline: "Wanted: Frozen Pizza Manufacturer." The ad leads to the purchase of the company's pizza plant in Salina, Kansas, and the Tony's ® pizza brand.

View Image > 1970
Thumbs Up

The company installs its first computer, a National Cash Register Series 100, in a mobile home that is placed on the roof of the Ice Cream Plant in Marshall, Minnesota. The huge computer has 16 kilobytes of memory, approximately the size of an e-mail with no attachments.

View Image > 1970
Target

On February 23, 1974, fire destroys the company's ice cream plant, corporate headquarters and distribution center in Marshall, Minnesota. After briefly entertaining the idea of moving corporate headquarters to South Dakota, Marvin makes the decision to rebuild in Marshall.

View Image > 1974
Truck

With gas prices reaching unprecedented levels, the company begins converting its route trucks to run on propane fuel. Today, more than 70 percent of the company's estimated 4,500 delivery vehicles run on propane.

View Image > 1974
Briefcase

The company creates its Food Service Division (now Schwan's Food Service, Inc.) and provides its frozen pizza and other products to schools and other venues in the food-service industry.

View Image > 1975
Pizza

Red Baron ® pizza is introduced by the company's Consumer Brands division. The quality of the new product catches on quick with consumers and grows to become the company's best-selling pizza brand. The home-delivery business introduces corn dogs and the Ranchero™ sandwich.

View Image > 1976
Plane

To help market Red Baron ® pizza throughout the United States, the Red Baron™ Squadron is formed. The squadron of WWII-era biplanes would serve the brand for 28 years. During that time, it had become the longest-serving civilian aerobatic team in the United States and would carry more than 80,000 passengers.

View Image > 1979
Lightning

The company launches its newest innovation — a 5-inch single-serve deep-dish pizza that is first launched under the Little Charlies ® brand.

View Image > 1983
Acquisition

The company acquires Sabatasso Foods, a frozen pizza producer, and the Minh Food Corporation, an Asian-style foods producer. As a part of the Sabatasso Foods acquisition, the company began operating its pizza plant in Florence, Kentucky, where it would later begin producing Freschetta ® pizza.

View Image > 1986
Flowers

On May 9, 1993, Marvin Schwan, the company's founder, dies at the age of 64. Schwan employees are stunned at the news. With one great idea and a lot of hard work and dedication, Marvin helped turn his tiny rural business into a multibillion-dollar company. Newspapers throughout the country carry Marvin's obituary. Some newspapers label him "The Emperor of Ice Cream."

View Image > 1993
Thumbs Up

After Marvin's passing, his older brother, Alfred, was named as the company's president. Alfred had served as the company's head of manufacturing since he joined the company in 1964 and was intimately involved in all aspects of the business. Alfred leads the company with his strong, enthusiastic presence, guiding the business through both challenging and prosperous times.

View Image > 1993
Pizza

The company introduces Freschetta ® pizza in frozen-pizza aisles throughout the United States. To entice pizza lovers to buy its new pizza, the company builds an advertising campaign around "Etta," a spunky sample lady who asked the simple question: "Tried Freschetta yet?"

View Image > 1996
Banner

The USA CUP ® soccer tournament was started in 1985 by the Sons of Norway and was originally modeled after the Norway Cup. In 1998 it is renamed the Schwan's ® USA CUP ® and since then the company has been the title sponsor for the largest youth soccer tournament in the Western Hemisphere.

View Image > 1998
Acquisition

The company buys Atlanta-based Edwards Fine Foods, a manufacturer and distributor of premium desserts. The Edwards ® brand has grown to become a top brand in the U.S. frozen-dessert market.

View Image > 2001
Cake

The company celebrates its first 50 years of business.

View Image > 2002
Briefcase

The company officially changes its name from Schwan's Sales Enterprises, Inc. to The Schwan Food Company and its major business units become their own corporations. Today, the three product sales and distribution channels of the company include Schwan's Home Service, Inc., Schwan's Consumer Brands, Inc. and Schwan's Food Service, Inc.

View Image > 2003
Pie

To further expand its position as a leading producer and distributor of frozen desserts, the company acquires the frozen-dessert business of Mrs. Smith's Bakeries and the Mrs. Smith's ® dessert brand.

View Image > 2003
Pizza

Schwan's Food Service, Inc. introduces Big Daddy's ® pizza to the school food service market. Created to be a great-tasting alternative to pizza brought in from outside, Big Daddy's ® pizza is made with whole grains and a zesty sauce kids love.

View Image > 2005
Acquisition

The company acquires Holiday Foods, LLC of Hollywood, Florida. The business specializes in the production of high-end hors d'oeuvres for the food-service industry.

View Image > 2006
Arrow

Schwan's Home Service, Inc. launches the LiveSmart ® brand. Designed as a better-for-you alternative for consumers that want to eat healthier, LiveSmart ® products are moderate in calories, sodium and fat, contain zero grams trans fat and use minimal additives and preservatives in delicious, real foods.

View Image > 2006
Flowers

Robert "Bob" Schwan, the longest-serving employee in the company's history, dies at the age of 76. Bob, the younger brother of Alfred and Marvin, first started working for Schwan's Dairy in 1948.

View Image > 2007
Banner

Alfred Schwan, serving as chairman of The Schwan Food Company, is inducted into the Frozen Food Hall of Fame at an American Frozen Food Institute convention. He joined his brother, Marvin, who was inducted posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 2002.

View Image > 2008
Palm

Alfred Schwan, the older brother of the company's founder, retires as the company's chairman of the board. He had worked for the company for 45 years.

View Image > 2009
Flowers

Alfred Schwan, the last remaining Schwan brother, passes away at his home in Salina, Kansas. He was 85. Alfred was known as an adventurous and outgoing person who had a quick smile, relentless energy and a can-do attitude.

View Image > 2011
Bread

The company enters into an official partnership with Feeding America, the leading nonprofit organization working to end hunger in the United States.

View Image > 2011
Thumbs Up

Dimitrios Smyrnios joins the company as its chief executive officer becoming the sixth CEO in the company's 61-year history. He follows Marvin and Alfred Schwan, Ken Noyes, M. Lenny Pippin and Greg Flack. Soon after joining Schwan, Dimitrios introduces six business priorities that include: Safety, Quality, Growth, Cost, Service and Culture.

View Image > 2013
Phone

Schwan's Home Service, Inc., the company's home-delivery business, launches its first mobile app, allowing customers to shop for more than 300 delicious foods and manage their orders, all with a few taps on their phone.

View Image > 2013
Pizza

Schwan's Consumer Brands, Inc. launches the Bon Appétit™ specialty pizza brand, with a thin, artisan crust and flavorful ingredients. The new high-quality pizza launches in five flavors and quickly expands its distribution across the United States.

View Image > 2015
Arrow

SFC Global Supply Chain, Inc. and its Contract Partner Sales team announce a collaboration with legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus to produce the Jack Nicklaus ice cream line. The line launches initially in seven rich and creamy varieties, including Warm Spiced Butter Pecan, Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl, Salted Caramel Toffee, Strawberry Lemonade, Triple Chocolate, Coffee and Donuts, and Homemade Vanilla.

View Image > 2015