Gifford’s Ice Cream Chief Operating Officer J.C. Gifford, left, and Chief Executive Officer Lindsay Skilling, right, pose for a portrait inside the ice cream maker’s repaired production facility in Skowhegan. Photo courtesy of Gifford’s Ice Cream.

SKOWHEGAN — Gifford’s is back to churning out ice cream, one year after a fire severely damaged its production facility and headquarters.

The Skowhegan-based company, branded as Gifford’s HomeMaine Ice Cream, announced Tuesday that it resumed limited production at its Skowhegan plant earlier this month. By the end of 2024, the company said it will aim to bring all production back in-house to Skowhegan.

“I can say it feels great to be making our own ice cream again in Skowhegan,” CEO Lindsay Skilling said in a news release.

About 30% of the 7,700-square-foot production facility is now back online, according to the company. When repairs are completed, the factory at 25 Hathaway St. will be the same size as before with the same equipment in place, according to Skilling.

“It’s the same process that we’ve been doing since before the fire,” Skilling said in an interview Tuesday.



Gifford’s is now prioritizing making flavors that the other manufacturers were not able to produce during the last year, including toasted coconut and black raspberry chocolate chip frozen yogurt. Those flavors will be available in mid-March, according to J.C. Gifford, the company’s chief operating officer.

“We can only make certain flavors here because the process we use to make some of our bases and ripples can’t be duplicated elsewhere,” Gifford said in a news release.

CEO Lindsay Skilling watches as Gifford’s ice cream rolls off the line at the family’s plant in Skowhegan. Photo courtesy of Gifford’s

The February 2023 fire, which state fire investigators determined was caused accidentally by a heat gun that was left on top of combustible materials inside a walk-in freezer, forced the company to outsource production to several co-packers.

It took Gifford’s several weeks to find manufacturers to make its ice cream during the factory repairs. And the co-packers were not able to produce all of Gifford’s flavors, which are sold in stores across New England as well as in four company-owned ice cream stands in Maine.

As a result, overall sales in 2023 took a hit, dropping about 50%.

“It wasn’t great,” Skilling said Tuesday. “But we were just happy that we had ice cream to sell.”


Skilling declined to give the total cost of damages from the fire, or even a ballpark estimate, but said there was structural damage inside that was not visible from the outside, largely to the middle section of the building.

“If you drove by our building, you wouldn’t even know that we had a fire,” Skilling said. “The majority of the factory and the offices … those were down to the studs.”

Insurance covered the cost of repairs, Skilling said. But the insurance claims process, shortages of some materials and the demand for restoration companies pushed back a targeted reopening in the fall of 2023, according to Skilling.

“It was all of those factors that made it a little longer,” Skilling said.

Firefighters battle a fire in February 2023 at the production facility for Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream at 25 Hathaway St. in Skowhegan. About 30% of the 7,700-square-foot production facility is now back online and the company plans to have all production in-house in Skowhegan by the end of 2024.

Despite the delay, the approximately 40 employees who work at the Skowhegan factory and corporate office all kept their jobs, according to Skilling. The production staff was reassigned to different tasks and office workers moved to a temporary building next to the main building that was affected by the fire.

After the fire, town officials emphasized the company’s importance to the town. Officials once again praised the company at a Feb. 13 Board of Selectmen meeting when selectmen were discussing a new wastewater agreement for the factory.

Skilling, who along with Gifford is part of the fifth generation to run the company, said its loyal customers helped them through a difficult year. Customers were overwhelmingly positive, Skilling said, and did not have complaints about the ice cream coming from substitute manufacturers.

Gifford’s ice cream packaging is prepared to be filled at the plant in Skowhegan. Photo courtesy of Gifford’s

“The last year was extremely hard for our entire family, but without our loyal customers and partners and all of our family members and supporters, we wouldn’t be here today,” Skilling said. “We just can’t thank everyone enough for rooting for us and helping us out in a time of need.”

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