CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – Chris Pizzurro wanted to grow his Cross River-based business, Treat Frozen Yogurt, without running himself ragged. He found the key to getting bigger was thinking small.
Pizzurro opened the store, at the intersection of Routes 35 and 121, three years ago along with his wife, Lisa, and sister, Amy Civetta, and her husband, John.“The store is nice and it does what it does,’’ Pizzurro said. “We have a loyal following. But we wanted a way that we could take our product to more people.”
Last September, the business started distributing pints of its product to markets. He offered one flavor, peanut butter, and was in a few gourmet markets. Now, Treat Frozen Yogurt offers four flavors to more than 30 markets in three states.
“There are different ways for a business to grow, even in the frozen yogurt business,’’ Pizzurro said. “We weren’t interested in franchising. We wanted control and scalability. Distributing is a business that you can scale.”
The success of the distribution business has developed more rapidly than Pizzurro anticipated. “It was a trial to see if it could work,’’ he said. “People tell us we have a good product. We’ve known that if we got the product to more people, they will love it and come back for it. What surprised is how quickly it has taken hold.”
McMahon’s Farms, a frozen food distribution company in Hopewell Junction, now transports the yogurt to New York, Brooklyn and the Hamptons in Long Island. Pizzurro, who works in sales and marketing for a New York technology firm, has done much of the packing along with his family members. “There have been nights when we are at at the store at midnight packing boxes,’’ he said. He plans to hire more workers to help with packaging.
Pizzurro said two important factors help separate his product from competitors. “It’s a milk-based product, as opposed to others that are mixed with water,’’ he said. “It’s creamier, and a richer, more milk taste than powder taste. There really is no after taste. The other key is we’re a service oriented store. We don’t have the self-service like many other places. We only have three machines in the store, and six flavors at any given time. We clean our machines religiously, and that makes a difference. When you have 16 machines that sounds sexy and fun, but that could translate that they don’t take care of them and clean them properly.”
Pizzurro said he learned of the frozen yogurt product that Treat uses during a trip to California. “We were just selfish,’’ he said. “We wanted to have it all the time.” He tracked down the corporate offices in New Jersey, and opened the Cross River location in April 2010. Three years later, the shop has taken hold, the distribution business is growing and Pizzurro finds himself burning the candle at both ends between his two jobs.
“We are looking to bring the brand and taste as far as we can get it,’’ Pizzurro said. “We maxed out as much as we could do in the store. We’re already running three night shifts a week for packaging. It’s just gotten to be a phenomenal success.”