Gifford’s Ice Cream is scooping up more distribution outlets, winning awards and reporting what its owners say are sales gains of 7 percent to 10 percent for the year, said Lindsay Gifford, vice president of sales.

“For some reason,” she said, “it’s still considered pocket change to go out and buy an ice cream. It’s much less expensive than driving to God knows where for a vacation.”

The company, with thousands of distribution outlets and 25 employees working in manufacturing and sales at the company’s Skowhegan headquarters, in one sense is also going international.

Gifford says the company’s new outlets include the United Nations in New York; and is selling its ice cream as well in Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Taylor stores, Rutgers and Columbia universities, the Westchester Country Club, and Del Frisco’s Steakhouse locations in New York.

The new locations add to the several thousand retail and ice-cream stand locations already established throughout New England, New York and New Jersey that feature Gifford’s.

Gifford declined to report her company’s sales figures.

The company, whose roots in the dairy business go back five generations, is still very much a family affair.

Lindsay Gifford’s father, John Gifford, is in charge of sales and marketing. His brother, Roger Gifford, handles production and the company’s financial aspects.

This month’s issue of The Griffin Report of Food Marketing names Gifford’s Ice Cream to its list of “Best Places to Work in the Food Industry.” The listing comes from the New England publication’s 2008 food-industry survey.

Gifford’s Ice Cream was “a natural fit for our ‘Best Places to Work’ list, for several reasons,” Jack Walsh, vice president at Griffin Publishing, said in a statement. “The team at Gifford’s is viewed throughout the region as being incredibly ‘worker-friendly’ in terms of everything from advancement opportunities and clear communication with employees, to really living out the Gifford family’s operating philosophy of respect for team members and their surrounding community.”

“I might be a little biased,” said Lindsay Gifford, “but we don’t have that corporate feel. All of the employees can go into my uncle’s and father’s office to talk. We always make everyone feel welcome. If you have a family crisis, we’ll support people. We all don’t have the last name but we all feel like family.”

Gifford’s Ice Cream’s flavors and products continue to rack up culinary accolades, as well. Late this summer at the New Jersey State Ice Cream Festival, Gifford’s earned first place for its classic vanilla ice cream, the company reported. Gifford’s new Maine Lobster Tracks ice cream also took home a top placement in the People’s Choice category during the recent festival.

The awards add to Gifford’s growing record of industry recognition; the Maine company earned the coveted title of “World’s Best Chocolate Ice Cream” at this year’s annual World Dairy Expo in Wisconsin.

Lindsay Gifford said the Skowhegan company plans to continue growing, with new distribution deals, and likely at a higher pace than that of this past year.

“As long as we’re not growing so fast,” she said, “that we get ahead of ourselves.”

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