Black Business Month Feature
What is the correlation between Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, a predominately white company originating from a predominantly white state, and Black Business Month? It is Primo Partners (Team Primo)! Team Primo is a chain of Ben & Jerry’s franchises led by three Black men, who are taking over the southeastern region of the United States. They’re scooping peace, love, ice cream and giving equity and social mission a new sweet twist.
Their mission as entrepreneurs is to first and foremost be activists in their communities and not just philanthropists, and honor their commitment to improving racial and socioeconomic equity by growing the collective opportunity for the marginalized minority.
Over the years, they have continued to grow their business through community engagement, customer experience, and catering, while being a beacon for the brand, using their strong social justice voice. Being one of two black franchisees with Ben & Jerry’s is not the only way they are unique. Team Primo has propelled the catering category by double-digit sales growth annually while growing sales of acquired markets by 10 to 15 percent in their first year.
As their sales grow, their community reach grows as well. Over the past 10+ years they have donated thousands of scoops of ice cream to hundreds of organizations. Each year, the team donates one percent of their revenue back into the community. What a story! Two men started with one store, and now have 9 locations with plans to expand even more.
Antonio McBroom and Eric Taylor met as children in a small town named Pittsboro, North Carolina. They continued their friendship into adulthood. This friendship grew through their love for business, growth and social justice. Both recognized their humble beginnings and were determined to change the trajectory of their families’ future. Primo Partners’ founders were determined to establish generational wealth, not just for themselves, but to pave the road for equitable opportunities for Black persons, everywhere. They looked to one another as brothers and as mentors. It was this brotherhood that also pushed the business forward.
Antonio McBroom, Primo Partners’ co-founder, started his career as an ice cream scooper, while attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. McBroom dreamt of owning his very own location but didn’t think it was possible due to his lack of financial capital. Determined, McBroom finally saw his dreams come true at the end of his senior year, when McBroom and co-founder, Taylor, were presented with the opportunity to buy the very same shop Antonio managed during his four years of college. This made McBroom the youngest operating franchisee in Ben & Jerry’s history.
Later, Taylor and McBroom seized the opportunity to expand ownership and operations within the Triangle & Triad Regions of North Carolina, as well as the Atlanta Metro area. Then they did it again, and again, and again ― enlarging their Ben & Jerry’s empire to include shops in Athens, Georgia, Central Florida, and the greater Houston Metro areas.
In 2019 Taylor transitioned from his corporate senior electrical engineering role to assist McBroom full-time with the rapid growth opportunities within their Ben & Jerry’s businesses, as well as their other business endeavors.
McBroom’s character makes him a standout beyond his entrepreneurship, and it is commonly known that it is his leadership and business savvy that has made their business so successful. He is committed to serving the community by hiring and preparing disadvantaged adults and teenagers for the workforce. Team Primo takes the lead to give back through partnerships with Habitat for Humanity, United Way, We Are, and the Kellin Foundation.
As the years passed, McBroom and his friend, Phillip Scotton, also grew closer. By 2013, Scotton was afforded the opportunity to create and be a part of the inaugural internship program with Team Primo in hopes of understanding success and to gain the skills necessary to become a serial entrepreneur. With that knowledge acquired, Scotton set out to make himself an invaluable team member. By 2016, Scotton was immersed in the business as a partner/owner-operator where he has developed the catering market in ways the team never imagined. Scotton’s diverse skill sets illuminated an entire new business for the team. A very diverse team allows us to problem solve, team build, and grow sales because diversity brings disagreement. Disagreement and diversity of thought are a catalyst for skills development, marketing, sales, and professional development.
While their primary product is delicious ice cream, their main focus is the people that work with them. What they are most proud of is being a successful Black-owned business with a very diverse team in terms of age, race, gender, socioeconomic background and so forth. They truly believe their people are the best asset a business can have. With COVID-19 impeding business sales, their visionary prowess allowed them to continue to pour more and more into their team’s personal and professional development,while still being able to keep their other tenants of their business a priority.
They utilize their business as a vessel for dismantling white supremacy. Primo Partners has a mission to provide opportunity to those that are searching to advance their generational wealth through avenues that they typically would not qualify for. They also provide best in class customer service by providing customers with an euphoric catering and vending experience. Under the Primo Partners Umbrella, they have exhibited another strength—real estate development. They have made it a goal to include affordable housing in their portfolio and strive to help minorities own property. What’s more, they have officially started a DEI consulting business to assist in coaching other minority businesses and minority C-suite executives. Just this year on Juneteenth, along with The Buy Black Guide they also co-founded a coupon booklet featuring and highlighting businesses in North Carolina. A portion of the revenue goes towards a community grant focusing on racial equity.
People and community engagement are the heart of their company. Their entire business model is based around being activists who use business as a tool to illuminate community work. They love what they sell, but not because it is ice cream. They love it because of its ingredients, mission, and the impact it has on our customers and staff— it sparks happiness. Remember the name Primo because they are out to do great things in this nation and even in this world.
Last updated on September 7, 2021