Oklahoma City (KFDX/KJTL) — William Henry (Bill) Braum, founder of Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Stores, died Monday, March 23. He was 92.
Braum was born in Newton, Kansas in 1928, and raised in Emporia, Kansas.
As a young boy, he began his working career by helping his father, Henry, in the family business – a small butter and milk processing plant in Emporia.
In the 1930s, Henry added ice-cream processing to the operation.
After graduating from the University of Kansas in 1949 with a B.S. in Business Administration, Braum went to work full time for his father. He also met and married his wife, Mary, that year.
Three years later, Braum and his father decided to specialize in retail stores and sold the wholesale part of the business. Following that, they developed a chain of retail ice cream stores in Kansas called “Peter Pan Ice Cream.”
In 1957, Braum’s father sold him the business. Within ten years, Braum built the business to 61 stores.
In 1967, a wholesale company offered a price he couldn’t refuse for the retail stores, and he took it. Braum kept the processing plant, farm, and dairy herd.
Braum began building stores in Oklahoma under the name “Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Stores,” opening 22 stores in 1968.
By 1971, there were 40 stores, and a new plant built in Oklahoma City, and the family moved to Oklahoma City.
In 1975, Braum moved the Braum dairy herd from Emporia to its new home located in Tuttle, Oklahoma. It was considered the largest modern-day cattle drive.
Now, the Tuttle farm consists of a bakery, a dairy, processing plant, a milking facility, and a few thousand baby calves.
The Braum family also operates a second milking operation on the Braum Farm located on the border of Shattuck, Oklahoma and Follett, Texas.
Throughout the years, Braum has become known as a pioneer in “vertical integration.”
From the ground up, Braum’s controls every aspect of the operation, including farming, manufacturing, retailing, trucking, advertising, and real estate.