Crest Ink - Volume 28 - Number 03

We also made candies to flavor ice cream with the most popular ones being black walnut crisp and chocolate ting-a- ling. Our first stabilizers were for ice cream, ice milk and sherbet. A couple young guys out of college named Jay Meiners and Dick Moeller were added to the payroll in 1952 to handle sales and run production. Things went rea- sonably well until some real drama started to happen in 1957. The accountant, Tom Gaskins was appointed president much to the dismay of Mr. Scott. Following a legal battle, Mr. Scott was bought out and left the company. Crest was promptly renamed Gaskins Foods (I think he was mad because they left his initial out of the original name). Evidently the name didn’t work so well and we were once again Crest Foods three years later. In the mid 60’s Tom Gaskins had a stroke and while physically well, permanent- ly lost his ability to speak. His wife Blanche took over and Crest had their first female President for the next several years until 1967. Employees Jay Meiners, Dick Moeller, Ray Sailer and then technical director for Dean Foods, Bert Kemp, pooled together their money and bought Crest Foods in 1967 for $182,000. This partnership brought new energy and passion to Crest that brought the contract packaging business into existence in 1969 packaging coffee whitener for Dean Foods. This was the beginning of a big growth time for Crest, but we would still struggle financially for at least the next decade – enough so that the discussion of could we keep the doors open was a common one. Obvi- ously, we did and the foundations for many of the things that we still do today started to be put in place. The early seventies saw the packaging business grow with our relationships beginning with General Mills and Karlin Foods. Our facility on Brown Street was built in 1977 and has been added to dozens of times since then. Profit sharing, health insurance and the ten year trips were added as part of the employee benefits package. The 80’s were a time of great growth and change for Crest. Our Consumers Products Division was started with our first sales being Chex Party Mix Seasoning (that we still sell today). The partnership from the 60’s changed dramatically as Ray Sailer had passed earlier and Dick Moeller and Bert Kemp sold their stock leaving Crest a com- pany run by the Meiners family. Jay Meiners lost his struggle with cancer in 1988 leaving his rather young and somewhat unprepared three sons to run the business. Devine intervention smiled on Crest and we not only sur- vived…we thrived. The 90’s and on has once again seen a time of great growth for Crest. Our new warehouses were built west of town in 1991 and we’ve been adding on to them ever since. In 2001 the Ingedient Division lab and pilot plant was expanded onto the space formally occupied by Grewe’s Tap. The mix facility was built in 2003, the west production area was added to the warehouse in 2006, the Ingredient Division warehouse was built in 2015 and to come full circle…the consumer products lab was built in the refurbished building that housed M&S Dairy Specialties (Crest Foods) way back in 1946. The Crest Foods of 2016 shows little resemblance to the one of 1946. We occupy in excess of one million square feet of warehouse, production and office facility. More than 800 people currently cash a paycheck that has a Crest Foods logo on it. Well over a million pounds of some type of food goes out our doors to the consuming public every work day. There are lots of Meiners around – nine of us are on the payroll and Delores (Jay’s wife) stops by every now and then just to make sure we are hard at it. Despite all the growth, we remain very loyal to our roots. The Crest Culture is the most important aspect of who we are and we are vigilant about making sure we are true to that. We are still a small town company in the middle of the Midwest with small town values. Making a profit is important because it allows us to exist and grow, but we exist to create a way of life for our Crest family - not to make a profit. Crest is built on the shoulders of those who show up to work every day and for those who did the same for the 70 years previous to this. Oh my – the people we have known – all ends of the spectrum from hard workers to char- acters and everything in between. We celebrate those that are here today and cherish the memory of those that went before us and can’t begin to imagine what stories might unfold in our next 70 years.

2 Crest Ink July, August & September 2016

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