×

Kona Ice

NORTH CAROLINA

Their past career in the mobile catering business readied Pam and Gary Sample to purchase their first flavored shaved-ice dessert truck.
Source: Kona Ice
Their past career in the mobile catering business readied Pam and Gary Sample to purchase their first flavored shaved-ice dessert truck.
Description: Shaved-ice trucks
Owners: Gary and Pam Sample
Years in business: 6
No. of franchises owned: 3
Start-up costs: $114,000 to $129,000, including working capital and franchise fee
Franchisor fees: $15,000 (included in start-up costs); $3,000 per year for first five years, escalating to $4,000 per year in year 8 and beyond
2015 revenue, 2016 projection: $155,000 (lower than average due to 5 consecutive weekends of rain); $225,000
2016 projected annual growth rate: 80%

Pam and Gary Sample had been running a mobile catering business for 15 years when, in 2009, they met Tony Lamb, president of Kona Ice, a national franchise featuring flavored shaved-ice dessert trucks.

The Samples knew this was a natural fit for them because of their past career in the mobile catering business, and the following year, they purchased their first Kona Entertainment Vehicle — or KEV, as they're known. Schools, community event organizers, and festivals throughout southern North Carolina book the trucks that sell a variety of shaved flavored ices. In 2011 the couple added another vehicle and, more recently, a smaller Kona Ice kiosk that enables them to service events that don't have room for the big Kona trucks to park.

Additional resources for franchisees

Giving back is a big component of the Kona Ice model. Since 2007, the parent company has raised more than $30 million for local organizations all over the United States. The Samples share in that model and routinely donate between 20 percent and 25 percent of their sales from fundraisers back to the communities that host them. "Giving back to the community is a great way to support a number of great organizations and really feel like your business is making a difference," Pam said.

Among the biggest variables in the business is the weather. Even if the trucks are fully booked for an event, if the organizer cancels because of weather, the Samples have to cancel as well. But even with that ongoing challenge, Pam is confident about her company's growth. "We have to turn away business because I don't have enough trucks right now," she admitted, noting that she and her husband are interested in increasing their fleet sometime down the road. "The secret [to franchising] is getting into a business you are passionate about or one that has a natural fit," she said. "The rest is effortless if it's something you really love."

"Giving back to the community is a great way to support a number of great organizations and really feel like your business is making a difference." -Pam Sample

Make It

Latest Special Reports

  • Frontline insights and unique views on key issues and challenges facing today’s CFOs.

  • The latest CNBC Fed Survey.

  • Net/Net promo

    Examining how top companies promote and manage innovation, leverage rapid change and use technology to grow exponentially.