Time-tested Companies that Shaped Utah’s Past and are Defining its Future

By Tom Haraldsen

September 9, 2013

Utah and ice cream go together like bees and honey. As Farr points out, “our culture here in Utah centers around the family, and ice cream is a part of so many family activities … whether it’s around a kitchen table, served at a party or reception, or taken along on a picnic. Some of the finest moments in a family’s life, some of their most memorable moments, often have ice cream as a part of them. It’s really a special privilege of our business to be part of something that unique.”

Despite being one of the most successful regional ice cream manufacturers in the country, the Farrs are always looking for new ideas. That’s one reason why two years ago, a number of Farr’s Fresh Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt Cafes began opening in Utah and are currently expanding into Arizona and Texas. Unlike the onslaught of frozen yogurt shops that quickly opened, and in many cases have since been closed, Farr’s Fresh offers customers a wide variety of frozen treats—from ice cream, frozen yogurt and frozen custard to gelato, homemade cookies and—at the City Creek location in Salt Lake City—gourmet hot dogs.

“We’ve been deliberately selective in opening new cafes,” Farr says. “We wanted to grow the concept and have staying power, and that’s what we’ve done.”

This summer, the Farrs began franchising Holukia Shave Ice, authentic Hawaiian shave ice desserts that have quickly caught on. A dozen locations opened in June and July, with major expansion expected to continue regionally and nationally over the next few months. And soon to be announced is another new line of products for grocery stores.

“Our slogan is ‘Farr Better Ice Cream—only the best for family and friends,’” Farr says. The company’s success shows that guiding principle is working deliciously.


Smith Powell & Company, LLC

Established: 1912

With the ever-changing landscape of tax laws and accounting rules and procedures, the need for a trusted accounting firm has never been greater. That statement was as true a century ago as it is today. And not coincidentally, one of Utah’s oldest accounting firms has been helping clients that entire period of time.

Smith Powell & Company just celebrated its 100th anniversary. Founded in 1912 by J. Percey Goddard and Roy G. Abbey, the firm has gone through several name changes over the century as partners have joined, left or passed away—but it hasn’t changed its focus. This trailblazer is as service and customer oriented today as it was on day one.

“I think the common theme here is the quality of our work,” says Brandon Zrno, partner along with Roger Powell in the Salt Lake City firm. “Lots of accountants are so focused on just billable hours, but we take a different approach. We like to look at the client’s needs, study the issues and say, ‘Let’s get it done.’ Our goal is to offer quality services that allow us to keep those clients forever.”

A firm as established as Smith Powell & Company can back that statement with a customer base that often includes second- and third-generation family businesses. Zrno was working the day of the interview with an agricultural client who’s been with the firm since the 1940s.

The firm’s focus is in three main areas: taxes, accounting and auditing. Most everyone has to deal with taxes, whether as individuals or large corporations. Zrno says his firm often helps untangle clients from the webs they’ve woven themselves through making mistakes.

“Whatever our fees, I can almost guarantee a client that we’ll save them money in the long run,” he says. “With all facets of our business, the biggest misconception people have is about price—they fear they can’t afford to hire a professional accountant, even though the errors they might make doing things on their own will be more costly. I’m in touch with my clients all year long, not just when it’s time for quarterly or annual taxes, so we have that kind of relationship and understanding of their businesses. That’s something that sets us apart, because we can always help our clients be prepared for whatever new laws or regulations come up.”

The accounting side of the company’s business provides clients with a lot of flexibility, something Zrno says attributes to the firm’s 100-plus years of success. “It’s about what the client wants. We’ll tell them about the things they can do for themselves, and then help them assemble their business statements for audits or reviews.”

Utah’s strong entrepreneurial spirit—perhaps the strongest of any state in the nation—makes for a great business environment for Smith Powell and other firms.

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