The Yorkton Chamber of Commerce has unveiled its guest speaker for the Annual Chamber Business Dinner to be held October 1 at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Cultural Centre.
Ashley Chapman is vice president of Chapman’s Ice Cream.
“When Chapman’s Ice Cream was featured on CBC’s Rick Mercer Report, our committee thought theirs was a story that the Yorkton business community will want to hear,” said Carol Yaholnitsky, co-chair of the Chamber events committee. “It’s truly an inspiring story of entrepreneurship and determination.”
Chapman’s opened for business in 1973 when David and Penny Chapman bought a small creamery in Markdale, Ontario. Over the next four decades, the Chapmans would grow the business from four employees and two trucks to the largest independent ice cream and novelties business in the country with dozens of popular products, 350 employees and 50 trucks.
The company was an industry leader in the moves to provide peanut/nut-free options and later, gluten-free products. Chapman’s also earned environmental accolades by building its own wastewater treatment facility so as not to burden the municipal system.
Then, in 2009, the unthinkable happened. Their entire production centre burnt to the ground. Determined to ensure none of the company’s employees would miss a paycheque, the family quickly converted a dry warehouse into a temporary production facility while building a brand-new, larger, state-of-the-art creamery that would even allow them to expand by 50 to 100 staff.
The new facility is appropriately named Phoenix.
Although the committee has not heard Ashley Chapman speak, they believe he has a compelling and relatable narrative for the Yorkton business community.
“We get really good reviews for him,” said Juanita Polegi, Chamber executive director. “He’s very frank; he’s very funny.”
Tickets and sponsorships for the dinner are now available through the Chamber office.