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Interview: Tom Davis

Hired in October, Tom Davis is the first new manager of the creamery in 30 years. Tom fills us in on his dream job, the future of the Creamery, and his favorite dessert.

This is my dream job. I'm a Penn Stater with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and master's and Ph.D. degrees in food science.

The creamery should be a happy place and we're going to promote it to be a happy place. My goal is to make the Creamery experience, whether you come to the store or buy from the website, as good as our products.

I started with Johnson & Johnson and helped them to launch Splenda into the market. After that I moved over to Sweet Ovations, a company that made fruit preps, caramels, and chocolates for yogurt, ice cream, and bakery foods. I did a lot of research and development, quality control, regulatory and productivity oversight, training, plant operations, and technical sales support. I got a really good feel for the entire general management of the business.

What new products can we put out there that our customers will want? Can we do something in Greek yogurt? How about iced coffees that are milk-based in a bottle? We want to hear from you.

We're looking at revamping some of our packaging. With a new brand strategy coming in the near future for ice cream in pints, each individual flavor will have a unique look along with a universal lid that tells the Penn State story.

We're also transitioning to polyboard containers for pints. Our current pints are plastic and they crack on dry ice, so we can't ship them. We believe that the change will help expand our e-commerce business, as well as allow us to service the Commonwealth Campuses.

We have approximately 136 ice cream flavors, some of which haven't been made in 10 years or more. We're going to retire some of those flavors and introduce a few new ones.

We're in discussions with THON to do a THON flavor. My projections are that it will be a top-10 flavor.

Not all our flavors cost the same to produce, yet we charge the same for all of our flavors. We may create a premium or gourmet line, and the THON flavor might be one of those. Some of the proceeds would go to THON.

I would love to have a Penn State cow, a life-size blue-and-white cow statue outside the Creamery to give visitors a photo opportunity at the center of campus.

The Creamery has never offered discounts before. We're going to hold regular special events. Our first one was a date night on Valentine's Day. We gave away free chocolate hearts to anyone who bought two cones. We also did a special milkshake promotion for THON. And for March Madness, we created a Sweet Sixteen bracket.

I'm an ice cream purist. I believe there are two types of desserts--chocolate and ain't chocolate. My favorite flavor is Keeney Beany.

-- Sara LaJeunesse