Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream announced plans to expand its Skowhegan, Maine, headquarters factory to meet increased demand for its vintage, hand-crafted, award-winning ice cream.

The $1.6 million, 3,810-square-foot addition and plant renovation marks the most significant expansion Gifford’s has made to its 48,000-square-foot plant in its 41-year history and doubles the ice cream maker’s total production capacity.

“We are deeply honored to be here today marking an important expansion of this modest yet dependable building, which has faithfully served us for four decades,” says John Gifford, co-owner. “As we look ahead to the next many decades, we feel fortunate to be able to forecast increased demand for our ice cream and a renewed commitment to our hometown of Skowhegan.”

The Skowhegan factory dates to the 1930s when it served as a holding station for local farm milk that was shipped to Boston. In 1974, the Gifford family purchased the building from Hunt’s Dairy, and ran it for many years as a milk company. In 1980, the Gifford family started making ice cream in a corner of the milk plant. Three years later, they sold the entire fluid milk business to Oakhurst and went solely into making premium ice cream.

The expansion will create much needed additional floor space and allow Gifford’s to bring in two more large steam kettles, a new quart filler and a new shrink wrapper for retail packaging. These additions will let the ice cream maker run two production lines simultaneously.

“The expansion is something we needed in order to grow,” says Gifford. “It basically allows us to operate at faster speeds, create more efficiencies, double our quart filling capacity from 1 million to 2 million quarts per year and accommodate the increased need for our homemade bases and ripples.”

The company currently employs 37 full-time staff, but hopes to add at least two full-time employees by next summer as part of the expansion.

The contractor for the project is E. W. Littlefield and Sons, Hartland, Maine. The anticipated completion date for the project is April 2016. The company is considering a second phase to the expansion project that would allow them to add a second state-of-the-art hardening system to the new space.