Broken Arrow Chamber Celebrates Blue Bell's Return To Tulsa Area Stores
BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma - Blue Bell is back in the Tulsa area. Production lines at the Broken Arrow Blue Bell plant have been rolling for awhile and Monday, Broken Arrow Chamber officials welcomed the company's return.
The company started ramping up its production at the Broken Arrow facility six weeks ago after cleaning up from a listeria outbreak last spring that forced the company to stop making ice cream.
Blue Bell's sales manager in Broken Arrow says all the local grocery chains should have the five flavors on their shelves by now.
Monday's shipments are part of Blue Bell's second phase of bringing its ice cream back to stores. After the listeria outbreak that killed three people last spring, the company stopped all of its production and sales as they worked to cleanup the plants and implement new safety measures.
At least 200 employees were laid off at its Broken Arrow plant, but I'm told most of them are back on the job. The sales manager says all of his route drivers are back on the streets delivering ice cream.
Blue Bell executives and the Broken Arrow Chamber spoke with the media Monday morning about the product roll out.
Chamber President Wes Smithwick says he's confident Blue Bell sales will bounce back soon.
"I think that there's already strong support for Blue Bell Products here and that will take time, we understand that, but our community here has had confidence in the Blue Bell people in this plant and the people who make this ice cream and their leadership," said Wes Smithwick.
He says he went to Reasors Monday morning with a cooler and loaded up on two half gallon tubs of ice cream and brought it into the office.
Blue Bell hopes to add flavors in the future.