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Handing over a Fudge Business Is a Sweet Deal with Proper Planning

They say their fudge is known for its creaminess. They package it with a spoon so customers can enjoy it on the spot. It was “Oh Fudge” and became “RT Premium Fudge” in 2002 when Rhonda and Troy Dowling of Burwell purchased the business from a couple they were friends with at church, Aaron and Tam McDowell of Arcadia.

The McDowells were planning a move to Denver and didn’t want to continue the business from there. It was good timing for the Dowling family as they were looking for a business that could be home-based. RT Premium Fudge’s production kitchen is in a room above the Dowling’s garage and is now based in Burwell. The company makes and sells homemade fudge, selling both in the wholesale and retail markets.

The Dowlings made a trip to Denver to finalize the purchase and spend some time with the McDowells learning about the business operation. They exchanged many phone calls and emails initially to help the Dowlings get started.

Troy Dowling focused on increasing the wholesale customer base, expanding to about 75 wholesale customers from the 17 they began with. The McDowells focused more on retail sales at shows, while the Dowlings changed that aspect of the business, using more mail order sales. They are soon planning to enhance their website with a shopping cart so they can make more online sales.

“Oh Fudge” was a GROW Nebraska member business, a status RT Premium Fudge has maintained. The Dowlings found assistance from REAP through their GROW Nebraska connections. REAP helped with business planning to enable them to purchase the business, and then provided part of the financing for the equipment.

REAP was involved later with some operating capital and in 2006 granted the business a Women and Company Equity Award to use to improve their website (still in process) and to work on new policy and procedure guidelines for the business.

In September, RT Premium Fudge will begin its new Fudge of the Month Club. For $130 per year they’ll send out a half pound of the featured fudge each month. Traditional chocolate walnut is their biggest selling fudge flavor, but turtle cheesecake is also popular. The Dowlings have experimented with new flavors and believe strawberry cheesecake is one of the best sellers from Valentine’s Day through the summer.

The Dowlings are a busy young family with five children. They are active with their church and with school and their children’s activities. This year three of the children will be in school. Rhonda doesn’t have much time for other hobbies or interests beside the business and the kids, but enjoys reading when she can. For more information about the business you can check their website, www.rtfudge.com .

Rhonda Dowling, shown with her notably creamy fudge in RT Premium Fudge’s Burwell, Nebraska, production kitchen.
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