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How Kona Ice, A Mobile Snow-Cone Franchise, Grew To $125 Million In Sales
When Tony Lamb, founder of Kona Ice, asked Richard Weaver in 2011 why he wanted to operate one of his roving snow-cone truck franchises, Weaver replied that he had grown weary of his career as a collections agent for the mobile-home lending industry. “It was the pits dealing with people who were at the lowest point of their life,” Weaver recalls telling Lamb. “They were usually good people who just ran into hard times. I just wanted to work in a job that created happiness.”
Despite Weaver’s lack of experience in food or franchising, the latter part of his answer appealed to Lamb, who awarded the former repo man with the Central Arkansas territory for Kona Ice. This year’s Kona Konvention, held each February at the corporate headquarters in Florence, Kentucky, welcomed more than 600 individual franchisees, including Weaver as a keynote speaker. At the convention,  Lamb likes to highlight how owning a Kona franchise has changed the lives of the retirees, the moms returning to the workforce, the millennials looking for a side hustle. Weaver, Lamb says, “got on stage and told his story, and brought a lot of people to tears.”
Weaver talked about how he had longed to be his own boss. “I’m Joe six-pack and was in my late 40s but had no capital to look into McDonald’s,” he says “The fact that Kona is low-cost gave me the opportunity to be a small entrepreneur.” Now 52, he owns two Kona trucks and an additional Kona trailer. He also doesn’t mind the seasonality of the business, which allows him to “take a breather” between January and March. Selling cups of crushed ice earned him more in May 2018 than he had made in a year as a collections agent.

Lamb says the flexibility of franchising a truck paired with his decision to remove the typically competitive nature of franchising from Kona has helped his frozen-treats business to thrive from the Florida panhandle to Alaska. Franchisees are not required to report revenue or give a percentage of sales to corporate. Instead, corporate largely relies on initial fees and fixed royalties from franchisees as well as sales from the dozen or so trucks the Lamb family continues to operate in the Boone County area.

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