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Ice cream maker Kemps fitting up warehouse space on former IBM campus

Kemps, which is owned by the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative, recently filed for a number of building permits for a “warehouse fit-up” of Building 205 at 2900 37th St. NW. It is one of the 34 on the Rochester Technology Campus. That is the previous IBM campus.

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Kemps, which is owned by the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative, recently filed for a number of building permits for a “warehouse fit-up” of Building 205 at 2900 37th St. NW. It is one of the 34 on the Rochester Technology Campus. That is the previous IBM campus.
Jeff Kiger / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Maybe it's time for a new flavor: Big Blue-berry.

Two of Rochester’s biggest corporate names – Kemps and IBM – will soon come together as the ice cream maker takes over a warehouse on Big Blue’s former campus.

Kemps, which is owned by the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative, recently filed for a number of building permits for a “warehouse fit-up” of Building 205 at 2900 37th St. NW. It is one of the 34 buildings on the Rochester Technology Campus . That is the previous IBM campus.

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The Rochester Technology Campus, owned by Los Angeles-based IRG, was previously known as the IBM campus. IRG paid $33.9 million to purchase the 490-acre campus from IBM in 2018.

When asked about how the warehouse will be used, DFA representatives replied that they had no information to share on the topic.

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Rochester is the main site for Kemps’ ice cream production at the plant at 406 N. Broadway Ave. About 166 people work there.

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Kemps, which is owned by the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative, recently filed for a number of building permits for a “warehouse fit-up” of Building 205 at 2900 37th St. NW. It is one of the 34 on the Rochester Technology Campus. That is the previous IBM campus.
Jeff Kiger / Post Bulletin

It is unclear if Kemps is leasing all of the space in Building 205, which is not connected to the main collection of buildings on the campus. It is located on the far west side of the campus. The 194,092-square-foot building features warehouse space, loading docks, offices and a mezzanine.

Kemps reduced its Rochester footprint in 2020 , when a milk processing facility at 700 1st Ave. SE that it shared with AMPI closed. However, ice cream remains a hot commodity

In 2019, Kemps said it could produce 86,000 units of ice cream, yogurt or frozen novelties a day, or 40 million units a year. The milk churned to ice cream comes from dairies located within 200 miles of the plant.

The ice cream facility’s history in Rochester dates back to the founding of the Parkin Ice Cream Co. of Rochester in 1911. Kemps Ice Cream Co. of Minneapolis was founded in 1914. Kemps was sold to Crescent Creamery in 1924.

Marigold Dairies of Rochester was founded in 1928 when W.R. Cammack, son of Crescent Creamery co-founder along with two former officers with the Vander Bie Ice Cream Co. of St. Paul, purchased Parkin Ice Cream.

Kemps, Crescent Creamery and Marigold joined forces in 1961. In 1968, the Dutch company NV Wessanen Koninklijke Fabrieken bought Marigold Foods. National Dairy Holdings then purchased Marigold in 2001, and it was renamed as Kemps in 2002.

In 2004, HP Hood purchased Kemps and then sold it to DFA in 2011.

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Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in "Heard on the Street." Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.

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Jeff Kiger writes a daily column, "Heard on the Street," in addition to writing articles about local businesses, Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Foods, Crenlo and others. He has worked in Rochester for the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Jeff at 507-285-7798 or jkiger@postbulletin.com.
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