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Sweet Sensation

Douglas Wiggins’s Body Quest Ice Cream doesn’t just taste great — it’s also (seriously!) pretty good for you, too

YOU RARELY SEE “ice cream” and “healthy” in the same sentence, unless that sentence is “If you want to be healthy, don’t eat too much ice cream.” But in the case of Douglas Wiggins’s company, Body Quest Ice Cream, the sweet treat has a lot to recommend it — so much so, in fact, that his frozen dessert is the protein supplement of choice in numerous medical facilities around Atlanta (Body Quest’s former headquarters) and beyond.

Each four-ounce serving of Body Quest (available in vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and lemon) is packed with 16 grams of easily digestible whey protein — ideal for hospital patients in need of a protein supplement, athletes or any health-conscious consumer looking for a snack that offers more than a candy bar or a carton of Ben & Jerry’s.

You might say that ice cream runs in Wiggins’s veins; his uncle, Henry, ran Hank’s Ice Cream in Houston for 25 years. In the early 1990s, Wiggins — who grew up in Amherst, New York, and graduated with a degree in environmental engineering from Syracuse — moved to Houston to learn the trade, later opening a Hank’s outpost in Atlanta. In 2003, he founded Body Quest.

These days, the business is anything but frozen in place. In October 2011, Body Quest was acquired by Charlotte, North Carolina–based Lindy’s Homemade, a move that Wiggins says “has increased manufacturing capability and market distribution” significantly. The reason for his success is vanilla-simple, he says: It has everything to do with broad appeal.

“Body Quest is used by bodybuilders, athletes and people with medical conditions: chemotherapy patients, dialysis patients, AIDS patients, burn victims, maternity, stroke, assisted living, dental and pediatric,” he says. “Additionally, consumers who want a healthier alternative with more protein and lower sugar enjoy our product.”

Kids, adults, the sick, the healthy: Just about everyone loves ice cream. And Wiggins has made it easier than ever for all of them to enjoy it guilt-free. It’s a delectable confection — and a sweet business model.

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Body Quest’s acquisition by Lindy’s Homemade last October has presumably had a substantial effect on Body Quest’s operations. Even before that, though, you were working pretty hard to expand.
Over the past year, Body Quest has undergone a number of changes. Demand for our product continues to grow across the U.S. and abroad; we’ve been used by several professional sports teams, and have also grown into new markets. The average adult needs 50 grams of protein daily. If you’re experiencing a medical condition such as dialysis, or you’re undergoing chemotherapy, protein consumption is an important part of recovery. Body Quest continues to be the protein supplement of choice for an increasing population of medical professionals and patients. We’re currently distributed from the Midwest and Southwest to the Eastern seaboard, and I’m looking forward to making Body Quest available on the West Coast later this year.

How has the acquisition improved your overall business outlook?
It has increased our manufacturing capability and market distribution, and it expands the Lindy’s portfolio beyond Italian ice and gelato. Lindy’s is a national company associated with large grocery chains: Harris Teeter, ShopRite, IGA, Walmart, Winn-Dixie and others. It will increase Body Quest’s market presence as we compete with more established products. We’ll see double-digit growth in 2012.

Has being brought under the Lindy’s umbrella changed your short-term strategy at all? What’s your plan for the rest of 2012?
Over the next year, I would like to continue to focus on market depth within our current customer base. We manufacture what some have called “the best-tasting and healthiest protein supplement.” However, as a growing brand, we still have a long way to go in terms of market share. There’s growing demand for Body Quest, but these are very competitive markets; market share is not easily gained.

You’ve long been based in Atlanta. Are you reorienting in the direction of Charlotte now that you’re part of Lindy’s?
After the acquisition, we moved our headquarters to Charlotte. I can often be found there, but my office is still in Atlanta, which has been key to Body Quest’s start. It is definitely a city of entrepreneurs, and you can feel that vibe in any quadrant. It’s a business-friendly city with a small-town network. •