TROY —It’s not every day getting an “icy” reception can be a good thing.
Bringing tropical tunes and cups of fluffy snow everywhere it stops, Kona Ice is introducing Troy, Tipp City and Dayton to its distinctive blend of entertainment and gourmet frozen treats, with a philanthropic cause.
Sarah and Allen Lay of New Lebanon — who are in the process of moving back to Troy — went into business with Kona Ice a month ago, after the first area franchisee relocated a few years ago. Allen said the couple looked for businesses to get involved with for at least five years, including gas stations and apartment complexes.
“We actually ran into Kona Ice at my wife’s bank and they came out to do a company picnic,” he said. “We looked into the franchise. Kona’s business model is giving back to the community so a big portion of sales, usually 25 percent, goes back to the schools or community events.”
The fun begins as a brightly-colored truck playing tropical calypso music fills the air stops at each event and group gathering. Guests help themselves to any of the ten tastes on the truck’s Flavorwave, an interactive dispensing system in which individuals select from one or more of the flavors to pour over the snow, or ask Allen to whip up something from the additional 20-plus flavors and 500 different combinations available.
“We can either make a flavor, or you can flavor it yourself,” Sarah said. “That’s the main attraction. We have two flavoring stations, which helps us get through large groups at school fundraisers.”
The franchise is also known for its tradition of giving back to schools and the community, donating thousands of dollars each year to local school groups, teams and community organizations. As they book events with these groups, they pledge to give back a percentage of the proceeds from each stop.
Nationwide, Kona Ice has donated more than $27 million to community-based organizations since the launch in June 2007.
“The other night we served at Northridge Schools and gave 25 percent back to their school,” he said. “We try to give back as much as we can and it really helps the schools with funding, whether it be athletics or computers or anything it could be.”
The Lays are active in their church, First Baptist of New Lebanon, and usually give back to the community through church or donating their time to events such as a backpacks-for-kids program to give area kids supplies and the lunches they need. They said the philanthropic part of the business is what most appealed to them and fit the morals and values they want to instill in their young son, Emery.
“It can be a rewarding business for you and your family, but it can also teach you the value of giving back to others,” Allen said.
Beyond fundraisers, popular spots for Kona Ice stops in Troy, Tipp City and Dayton include fairs, festivals, corporate events, neighborhood socials, church events and birthday parties. The Lay’s truck also maintains regular weekday and weekend routes.
To check out the creations and calypso fun with Kona Ice, Sarah said they will be at the Troy High School Band Invitational on Sept. 12.
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on Twitter @Troydailynews.