July 23, 2018
Shop Talk

Their honeymoon startup

Photo | Brad Kane
Dave & Deb LeRiche, co-owners of Batch Ice Cream.

Dave & Deb LeRiche; Co-owners Batch Inc., New Braintree

Product: Batch Ice Cream, founded in 2009

Production facilities: Attleborough

Favorite flavors: Vanilla & salted caramel

Ages: 52 & 53

Birthplaces: Maine & Pennsylvania

Alma maters: Cambridge College & West Virginia University

On May 4, two weeks after their wedding, Dave and Deb LeRiche bought Batch Ice Cream from founders Susie Parish and Veronica Janssens, moving the company from Boston to the LeRiches' New Braintree home.

Why buy an ice cream company?

Deb: Dave and I met two years ago. His daughter is a friend of mine I work with as a nurse at Bay State Medical Center in Springfield, and she introduced us. We connected right away and got married. We said, "Wouldn't it be fun to start a business together?"

I've worked as a nurse my whole life, but Dave always has been in the food industry.

Dave: Distribution, marketing, management, sales.

Deb: He has been looking all of his adult life to start his own business.

Why Batch?

Dave: I have worked with a broker who sent me listings of businesses for sale. I was told the two women that created this ice cream had a fantastic product but struggled on the business side.

Deb: After we met with the creators, we went right to the Whole Foods and bought every flavor we could. We said, "Please let this be good." We brought the ice cream home, and each flavor we tasted, we were just blown away.

So, that is where Dave's expertise comes in.

Dave: I worked with companies like Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Snyder's-Lance and Tuco. I've done everything from run a route to stocking shelves to managing small teams and large teams. For me, this was a dream come true and an opportunity to use my experience to expand this really great product.

Mostly importantly, though, I get to work with my bride.

And you bought it just a few days after walking down the aisle.

Deb: We bought it on May 4, and we had just gotten married two weeks prior, so it was a crazy month. I've just been thinking about how busy we are. On my days off from the hospital, I'm busy with Batch. For him, every day is busy.

But in the week between our wedding and buying the business, we were in Mexico on our honeymoon with nothing to do. We were going crazy.

What makes the ice cream stand out?

Deb: It is an exceptional product because the ingredients are very simple. It is just milk, cream, sugar and whatever the flavor is. There is no extract. There are no stabilizers. There is no gum. It is real vanilla. It is real ginger. It is very simple, but it is very delicious.

I used to hardly ever eat ice cream before. I liked it, but it wasn't until I had really good ice cream like this that I really started eating it.

Dave: We really believe it is on trend. People are looking for natural products with not any weird stuff. On our pints, it says, "No weird stuff."

Did it already have some brand recognition?

Dave: The founders' vision was just to take the ice cream and go to the farmers market on their bikes. With it being ice cream, that was really hard to do. In the meantime, some distributors picked it up and brought it to different chains. They were in 200 stores.

Deb: They did a great job of getting it in Whole Foods, and the distributors took it from there.

How has it grown since you bought it?

Dave: We have been continuing to expand and have had some great victories in a short amount of time. Market Basket put it into six of their stores. Big Y will put it in all 77 of their stores. We are working with Wegmans and Hannafords.

What's your goal for the company?

Dave: We have five children between us: Deb has three boys, and I have two children. Right now, my daughter is working with Deb on social media. As the company grows, that is going to create a job for here. We want to create an opportunity to grow and teach them about the business.

The end goal would be for the business to sustain both of us. Right now, Deb works three days as a nurse, and we would like to scale that back so she just works at Bay State whenever she wants. Eventually, we would like the company to provide roles for our children as well.

And you could be the ice cream family.

Deb: This is so much fun. If you can't have fun selling ice cream….

Dave: ...you're not a fun person.

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ Editor Brad Kane.


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