A Q&A with Todd Truax, Chief Executive Scooper at Almost Heaven Home Made Ice Cream
Before launching Almost Heaven Home Made Ice Cream in 2008, Todd Truax did his homework.
“I researched ice cream for 16 years,” he said. “When I found out that the failure rate for restaurants was 70 percent and the success rate for ice cream places was 95 percent, I went with ice cream. I mean, who do you know that doesn’t like ice cream?”
Located at 6590 Middlebranch Avenue NE in Plain Township, Almost Heaven during its 10 years of operation has employed much of the Truax family tree, including Todd, his wife, Tami, and their sons, Matthew and Jared.
Here, Todd, whose title is Chief Executive Scooper, talks about making ice cream that loyal customers find genuinely heavenly, with 27 and 32 flavors available at all times.
Q. So how’s business at Almost Heaven?
A. “We’ve been blessed beyond our wildest dreams. The last three years, people really seem to be discovering us, and we’re busier and busier. We’re seeing people from Alliance and Brimfield. Our goal is to eventually have five stores, and we’re hopeful that it’s going to happen sooner than later.”
Q. What has been the key to your success?
A. “We buy the highest quality ingredients we can get our hands on whenever possible. Like the pecans for our Butter Pecan. We get them fresh roasted for our shop from Ben Wollenberg (in Canton), 120 pounds every two weeks during the summer months. We get them down to temperature and right into the ice cream. For the quality of what we’re producing here, everyone else in the country is charging 30 to 40 percent higher than we are, but my wife wants us to be family-friendly, and friendly on the wallet. Our Butter Pecan, by the way, was second in the nation in 2011 and 2012 in a National Ice Cream Retailers (Association) contest.”
Q. What are some of your other most popular flavors?
A. “Angel Tracks, which is one of our top sellers, is vanilla-based with Oreos, chocolate peanut butter cups and brownie pieces, then a touch of butterscotch. Raspberry Chip is raspberry ice cream with dark chocolate chunks. Green Monster, which was suggested by a customer, is mint ice cream with chocolate brownies, chocolate chunks and a fudge swirl. Go Bucks—because we’re huge Ohio State fans—is peanut butter ice cream, made with real Reese’s peanut butter, with chocolate chunks. We have Italian ices, which don’t have dairy in them, that are scoopable. You wouldn’t even realize it’s not ice cream.”
Q. What kind of things do your regular customers say about Almost Heaven?
A. “They like the richness of it and how smooth it is. And they like how clean our shop is. Every time the health department comes out, they tell us it looks like a new shop. That was part of our goal. We wanted to provide our children and other young people a clean, safe place to work, where we could teach them about business the right way, without cutting corners.”