Quality Ingredients Corporation History
QIC has always been in the business of turning liquid into powder. That has been the one constant in our history. Our accomplishments and evolutions are driven by a focus on unfilled market needs. We have always looked for opportunities to add value in a unique way such that if we didn’t exist, the market would experience a loss.
It all started in 1987 when our founder, Bob Thompson, created QIC to develop and sell nondairy creamer powders. Bob was a brilliant food scientist and brought a level of customer focus to the powder business that defines QIC to this day. Back then, QIC was not a manufacturer, and all production was outsourced to third party contract manufacturers.
QIC had been successful in growing its business from scratch and the late 1990’s showed significant investment in plant and equipment. In 1997, QIC built the current facility in Burnsville, MN. The first tower spray dryer was added soon thereafter and a pilot dryer soon followed.Burnsville was constructed to be a first class manufacturing, warehouse, and office facility and remains so today. In 1999, QIC purchased a shuttered spray drying facility in Marshfield, WI from Armour Foods. The facility had its origins in the 1930’s as a milk and cheese processing plant. After going through many different owners, it became part of the QIC family and added a filtermat dryer to QIC’s drying capabilities. With two commercial dryers, QIC moved most, but not all, production in-house; some specialized work continued to be done by outside third party contract manufacturers.
In the course of a few years, QIC had become a two location business! There was a lot to digest in the early 2000’s accompanied by exciting change and growth. QIC produced its proprietary line of non-dairy creamers and related products and sold them under the QIC label throughout the U.S. Production of the Creamer products was largely conducted out of the WI facility. At the same time, QIC was developing its own contract manufacturing service business, largely out of the Burnsville, MN facility. In Minnesota, QIC produced specialized powders for its customers, under their label and specifications.
By the late 2000’s, QIC was a mid-tier company playing in two different market segments – creamers and contract manufacturing. Both businesses were highly successful; however, the markedly different competitive characteristics of the two segments naturally posed interesting strategic and investment questions. The larger part of the company – the Creamer business – successfully participated in a consolidating, mature industry where its small market share catered to a specialized niche of customers. The smaller part of the company – the contract manufacturing business – was profitably growing in a large, growing, diverse and fragmented industry.
By 2011, the company reached a strategic inflection point driven by what it believed to be in the best long-term interest of each of the two businesses. QIC believed that the Creamer business would be a stronger competitor for the long-term if combined with a complementary competitor. QIC’s contract manufacturing business was highly attractive with plenty of room for growth. So, in the best long-term interest of that business, QIC believed it should invest to add capacity and grow its successful contract manufacturing business model.
2013 was a watershed year. QIC sold the Creamer business while also doubling its contract manufacturing capacity. It exited a mature business to focus exclusively on its growth business.
2014 was a year of company transformation and reinvention for the future. We right sized QIC after the divestiture. In many ways, we became a “start-up” all over again, but fortunate to be starting over with great customers, great employees, and a healthy company. QIC also found itself reinventing its approach to the market. We completed a strategic review based on in-depth work to understand customers, competitors, and our own strengths and weaknesses. We identified market segments where there is the best mutual fit between that segment and what QIC offers. We are investing in marketing and sales to communicate our differentiated value proposition. It is all about building long-term relationships of good mutual fit and growth; we are honored to have grown our base of customers by 40% in the last 18 months – there is no better measure of how our work is resonating with the market and how QIC is adding value.