From 2012 Press Release: Scott Memhard, President of Cape Pond Ice Company, Inc., will be discussing his historic business. As part of his illustrated talk, Memhard will have historic ice harvesting tools, block ice and other tools of the trade to share with the audience.
Cape Pond Ice Company was started as Gloucester Co. in 1848 by blacksmith Nathaniel R. Webster, who recognized the local fishing industry's need for a reliable, large volume source of ice. Prior to that time, fish - primarily halibut & cod - were preserved with salt and brine. Webster dammed a local brook and built his first ice house on what became known as Webster's Pond; today it is the site of Veteran's Memorial School and the Route 128 extension. The ice industry grew rapidly, and within four years Webster built ice houses on Upper & Lower Day's Ponds, where Foster's Service Station is located, and on Cape Pond in Rockport, which the company is still named after.
Almost a century and a half later, in 1983, Memhard Investment Bankers of Riverside CT became the fifth family group to own and operate Cape Pond Ice. Today, it not only provides ice to the commercial fishing industry but also the produce, poultry, and concrete industries, and to sculpture and wholesale / retail packaged ice customers.
Since “The Perfect Storm” sales of the popular “Cape Pond Ice - Gloucester - The Coolest Guys Around” t-shirts and merchandise have become a significant element of the business, including national advertising and internet sales. Over the past 29 years, in the face of dramatic declines in the commercial fishing industry, the company has implemented a strategy of diversification, requiring substantial investment in plant and technology upgrades. The workforce increases from a year-round base of 7 to 20-30 during the busy summer season, including a fleet of ice delivery trucks. Cape Pond Ice occupies an acre of industrial harbor-front real estate, and also has storage and distribution operations in Peabody and Lawrence, MA.
Funding for this program was made possible through a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which promotes excellence, access, education and diversity in the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences, in order to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and to contribute to the economic vitality of our communities.