“A PACE BAR IS THE KING OF POPSICLES,” Ralph Pace says with a smile, speaking over the hum of busy equipment. “There’s just nothing else like it. The best way to explain it simply is that it’s shaved ice on a stick. And people love them. I think that’s because Pace Bars have a stronger flavor and a different texture than other popsicles. They’re really just one of the highest-quality popsicles you can find anywhere.” For Ralph and his company, Pace Bars, Inc., quality is everything. However, that kind of excellence hasn’t just happened overnight—it’s been decades in the making.
In 1957, Ralph’s grandfather Gordon Pace decided to split from the Dairy Queen franchise he’d been working with because he wanted to sell more than just ice cream. So he opened a hamburger stand next to his home on Highway 89 in Bountiful and called it Pace’s Dairy Ann. And it was at this family hamburger stand that Ralph’s father, also named Ralph, began to develop the popsicle formula that his son would eventually perfect and dub the Pace Bar.
“My grandpa started the hamburger stand, my dad introduced the popsicles and then, in 1991, I named them Pace Bars and put them in grocery stores,” Ralph says. “It might sound easy when I say it like that,” he adds, “but it wasn’t. It’s taken a lot of work. With the equipment we had in 1991, we could only produce about 150 Pace Bars per hour. That just wasn’t nearly fast enough. I knew we had a great product and that we’d be able to sell whatever we could produce. We just needed to find a partner who believed in us as much as we did and could help us finance an expanded operation. And luckily we found that partner in America First Credit Union.
“My wife and I have been personal members of America First for more than 30 years, so we’ve known for a long time what a great group of people they are. When we got the opportunity to move our business accounts to America First, we jumped at it.
“Now as a business, we’ve been a member of America First for about 25 years and we couldn’t be happier with our partnership. The same things that have made us love being personal members have made our business membership a wonderful experience.
“They just know how to treat people and they want to see all of their members succeed. Beyond having great service though, their ability and willingness to help us find the financing we’ve needed has been invaluable to our company’s growth. And aside from access to the big things like financing and credit, we’ve really enjoyed all the little things they do to make running our company easier. Online banking lets us immediately see and balance our accounts and being able to automatically make payments on our loans has meant having one less thing to worry about every month. There are also several branches to our company, each with different cashflow and management needs, and America First has had checking account options that have worked for all of them. We have overdraft protection on the accounts that need it, so we’ve always got the peace of mind that our payments will go through. That’s important because one of our challenges is the seasonal nature of our product.
“We produce a lot of our bars during the winter when demand is generally low and then sell them when the weather gets warmer. Luckily though, along with overdraft protection, we’ve been able to take advantage of a great line of credit that helps us cover our costs until summer comes and we can sell our inventory.
Like the equipment working steadily in the background, Ralph and Pace Bars, Inc. don’t show any signs of stopping. “In the past few years, all the financing I’ve needed to grow my business has come through America First,” Ralph says. “Now, instead of producing 150 bars an hour, we can produce 10,000. And we’re going to push that number even higher. We’re planning on building additional space and growing into that and we’re definitely counting on America First to help us make that happen.”
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