Kid entrepreneurs bring ‘Screamin Brothers’ ice cream to southern Alberta

STORY BY AMANDA STEPHENSON, CALGARY HERALD, AUGUST 3, 2012

Calgary – All those pint-sized entrepreneurs hawking lemonade from sidewalk stands have nothing on the Wikkerink brothers.

The Lethbridge boys — J meilleur site viagra.R., 13, Dawson, 12, Joseph, 5, and David, 3 — are the proud owners of Screamin Brothers, a frozen treat business that sells homemade dairy-free ice cream. Two years after dreaming up the idea, the boys have a website, a logo, an Alberta Health Services inspected kitchen, and 14 southern Alberta retailers carrying their product.

“I never had dreams like this. I dreamed that we’d sell it almost every day at the Farmer’s Market — not be all over southern Alberta,” says J.R., who acts as the company’s official spokesman. “If it all goes bust tomorrow, we’ve learned so much and we can always still make it (the ice cream) up in the little batch freezer that we started with and have some for ourselves.”

As you’d expect, the boys’ parents Wayne and Anne do a lot of guiding from behind the scenes. But the Screamin Brothers concept was very much J.R.’s idea. Two weeks after his family adopted his brother Joseph from Haiti in 2010, that country was hit with a devastating earthquake. Wanting to do something to help, J.R. came up with the idea of selling ice cream to raise money for the orphanage where Joseph once lived. But since brother Dawson can’t eat dairy, J.R. modified a recipe by using coconut milk instead.

At first, the brothers sold their treats just to family and friends, but after multiple positive reviews, they decided to give the Lethbridge Farmers’ Market a try.

“It was a huge hit — we sold out the first day and the second day,” J.R. says.

Two years later, Screamin Brothers products can be found in retail locations like Community Natural Foods in Calgary, Annie’s Bakery and Cafe in Fish Creek Provincial Park, Nutter’s in Okotoks, as well as stores in Banff and High River. Five per cent of all proceeds are donated to children’s charities — previous recipients include Flying Doctors of Canada and the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

“The feeling that you know some kid somewhere is going to be helped … It’s a good feeling,” says Dawson, whose penchant for numbers has earned him the role of company “CFO.”

J.R. and Dawson say they spend between 15 and 20 hours a week working on various aspects of the business. Joseph and David, who was just adopted from Haiti six weeks ago, help out where they can and serve as official “taste testers.” The Screamin Brothers frozen treats come in raspberry, chocolate mint, strawberry, maple, vanilla, and chocolate.

Dad Wayne, who serves as official driver as the boys make their delivery calls to their various retail locations, says he finds it fascinating to watch the way his sons interact with customers, retailers, and suppliers.

“They’ve taken to it with the same kind of zeal that other kids take on sports or hobbies, that kind of thing,” Wayne says.

Amanda McLellan, sales manager with DSL Inc. — the food services distributor that supplied Screamin Brothers with their ice cream makers — said she was blown away when she met the boys for the first time in their “test kitchen.”

“J.R. is very creative, a very people-oriented person, and he’s the driving force on that end. And then Dawson is the perfect complement to him … He’ll be quoting things to me off the spec sheets,” she says. “These kids are more knowledgeable than a lot of adults I know, and they’re more driven.”

astephenson@calgaryherald.com

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