The pink child's desk in the office of the new president of Velvet Ice Cream Co. serves a significant purpose: to help groom the family-owned business's next generation of leaders.

"That's the way Dad did it," said Luconda Dager, whose 5-year-old daughter is the latest to use the desk. "He exposed us all to the business at an early age." This month, that exposure paid off as three of the Dager sisters assumed the leadership of the independent icecream manufacturer.

Velvet, which had sales of $23 million last year, produces 6 million gallons of ice cream a year, including Joseph Dager's original vanilla. That's one of more than 500 flavors the company makes in its Licking County factory about 40 miles east of Columbus.

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