On June 17, Kona Ice received official approval to operate in the City of Sylvania. Scott Humm, owner of Kona Ice Findlay & Northwest Ohio, says that although the permit is brand new, he is already quite familiar with Sylvania.
“We’ve been working with the Sylvania schools for three or four years,” says Humm. “We do a lot of fundraising with the Sylvania Schools, I’d guess we’ve been there over 50 times.”
The Findlay native explains that since he took the wheel of a Kona Ice truck, most of his business has been with schools, fundraisers, sporting events and corporate events. Then, COVID-19 happened.
“Our world got flipped upside down, like everyone else’s did. We lost one hundred percent of our business,” Humm says. “We had to figure out a new way to business, and go back to the old school way of doing things. I feel like a new person in this just starting over. Covid happened, and it was like, whoops, we’ve got to figure this thing out.”
Humm says that along with the unexpected turn of events, this spring he began receiving messages from Sylvania parents, asking for the Kona Ice to come out for events and neighborhood routes. In addition, summer 2020 brought several changes to Sylvania’s recreation areas, including one that was very welcome-- Kona Ice was finally allowed in at Pacesetter Park.
“We’ve been trying to get into Pacesetter for years,” says Humm. “Before, they had their own concessions, but now they’ve opened for food trucks. I look forward to a good relationship with them for sporting events.”
Humm applied for a solicitor’s permit with the City of Sylvania, and after about four weeks it was approved for two Kona Ice trucks. No license or permit is necessary for Sylvania Township, where the Kona Ice truck has occasionally made an appearance.
“We had to go through a whole process for the City of Sylvania,” Humm explains. “And we had to get fingerprinted, and have background checks done. It takes a while for the State to get back to Sylvania.”
Regarding current social distance guidelines, Humm says he and his crew have worked out safety plans.
“We have a pretty good social distancing procedure in place,” Humm explains. “And if necessary, we stop selling until everyone spreads out.”
The Kona Ice company has been around since 2007 when it was founded in Kentucky. “Shaved ice” is ice that is finely shaved through a blade. It’s not chunks of ice, it’s not crushed ice, it’s not an icee, and it’s not a slushie. The shaved ice allows for the flavoring to soak in more, and gives it a different consistency.
Scott Humm has been the owner of a brightly colored Kona Ice truck and franchise, with the territory from Ada to Sylvania, for about six years. His background has prepared him perfectly for 2020.
“I was in food manufacturing, quality and food safety, for twenty-three years,” he says. “I got downsized, and then went to work at Cooper Tire. It was a great job, but after a while I decided that what I was used to was chaos. I needed to find something to put me back in the food business. I came across a Kona Ice truck online, and six weeks later I was a franchise owner.”
Humm laughs as he recalls the initial process he and his wife Melissa went through before becoming Kona Ice franchise owners.
“We got to talk to the owner of the whole Kona Ice company. So I had my questions, he had his questions. My wife never said a word the whole time. At the end of our meeting, the company owner finally said, ‘Melissa, don’t you have any questions?’”
Humm says she only had one. “What’s the exit strategy?” Melissa Humm had asked. “If this doesn’t work, how do we get out of this?”
Humm chuckles over that now, and admits that he too was a little nervous about buying that first truck, although that feeling is long gone now. In 2017, his franchise was named Emerging Business of the year by the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce. And these days, his Kona Ice franchise has expanded to five trucks, runs twelve months out of the year, and he is looking to do more hiring.
“Mostly we’re event based, but now that we’ve lost our big events and festivals, we’re going back to neighborhoods,” says Humm. “But we will still do sporting events like baseball tournaments, and parties, like graduation parties or block parties, and also corporate events. We have a whole line of crafted flavors, like blackberry mojito or mai tai (non-alcoholic). Companies will hire us to come out for their employees, so we bring things for the adult palette.”
Humm says that one of his favorite things to do, though, is fundraising.
“We do some off the wall things here and there too, “ says Humm. “With fundraisers, we try to get involved with community things and help with fundraising as much as we can. Nationwide, Kona Ice has given back over 80 million. We've done about $140,000 in givebacks in our little area here. We get really touched and engaged in it. When you’re writing a giveback check for a school or a family fundraiser, it’s really exciting.”
"How the program works for schools is if we are doing it as a fundraiser, we come in and sell to all the kids and give 20% of total sales back to the school or the organization that is sponsoring us. If the school or organization is paying for the event, we provide a discount of 20% off whatever cup size cup is chosen for the event," Humm explains. "It is a great easy fundraiser and the kids love it. As we like to say, show us where to park and who to write the check to and we will do all the work from there."
Many schools are finding that the simplicity of the program is so easy that they now have monthly Kona days to help raise funds for them throughout the school year.
“We deal with 99.9 percent happy people,” Humm adds. “We try to make that a priority, to make it as fun for the kids and the families as possible. And the schools like us, and parents too, because all of our products are low sugar, low calorie, vitamin enriched proprietary blends.
Were the only ones that have the kinds of stuff that we do. And no GMOs, no high fructose corn syrup either.”
The Kona Ice truck is now taking event and street/neighborhood requests for Sylvania City and Township as Humm maps out a schedule for the summer.
“It’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been in,” Humm says of Sylvania. “It’s just fantastic. And everyone has always been so nice to us, especially at the schools. The teachers, the kids, the principals, it’s always been fun every time we’ve been there, so we’re really looking forward to more ways of bringing the FUNomenal experience to Sylvania!"
To make a request for Kona Ice to come to your neighborhood or event, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or message the Kona Ice Findlay & Northwest Ohio Facebook page: https://bit.ly/KonaIceonFacebook. More details about Kona Ice, including flavors and nutritional information, can be found at their website: https://bit.ly/KonaIceNWO