How We Started
How We Started
Darlington Farms brand was created and launched in 1982 by Ellison Bakery. At the time, Ellison’s intent was to enter two other market opportunities that the Archway retail brand and franchise had limited: fundraising and foodservice.
In early 1983, current Darlington president/CEO, Phil Hockemeyer, and his food marketing company, BP Foods, took over the national marketing and sales of the foodservice division. Its first major break came via cookie orders from the nursing home industry. Phil continued to represent the company until 1987, when he went on to focus 100% of his efforts on growing his nutritional products company.
The Darlington Farms brand was originally used to promote both divisions but by the late 1980’s, the foodservice division was branded as Darlington Cookie Company.
Tom Ellis, one of the owners of Ellison Bakery, and Phil Hockemeyer became partners and purchased Darlington from the Ellis family in late 1995. The company was renamed Darlington Farms, and a network of 65 distributors was established, primarily in the Midwest and southeastern areas of the United States.
Turmoil within the industries served by Darlington represented a challenge for the company during the remainder of the late 80’s and into the 90’s. But in 2001 – 2002, the USDA began pilot testing a school breakfast program. As this market opportunity began to gain traction, Darlington redesigned its products to create a line of carbohydrate breakfast items, including Breakfast Squares and Fruit Strudels. Over the ensuing years, the company worked hard to fine tune its formulations and add other innovative breakfast offerings.
Throughout the mid 2000’s, Darlington continued its strong growth in schools and healthcare. In 2005-2006 the company acquired two of its largest customers – Preferred Meals, a provider of pre-made meals to school systems, and Ameriqual, a military contractor.
In 2009 the company changed ownership when Phil Hockemeyer purchased the shares of his partner Tom Ellis. The company was renamed Darlington.
In January of 2011, the company launched Appleways, a brand of all natural whole grain snacks. The following year, a retail Appleways packaging line was created and a new brand, Crave-N-Rave, was introduced.
Today the product line now consists of almost 100 SKU, three strong nationally recognized brands in Darlington, Appleways and Crave-N-Rave, an experienced management team and an energized sales force. Distribution of Darlington products is executed throughout the U.S. and Canada through a network of over 300 distributors, coast to coast.