Local sweet ice biz to be featured on ‘The Bachelorette'

Kona Ice gets air time on primetime

FLORENCE, Ky - Kona Ice will be making its primetime debut on Monday thanks to a popular matchmaking, rose-offering show for singles looking for love.

The Florence-based mobile, shaved ice franchise will be featured on “The Bachelorette” on Monday, July 15. This sort of exposure is never what founder and CEO Tony Lamb ever had in mind when he first started up his flavored ice biz, all because of a ‘creepy,’ nearly broken-down ice cream truck that puttered through his Northern Kentucky neighborhood in 2004.

He remembers the day quite vividly.

The unmistakable, clanky music that fills the suburbia air in the summertime could only mean one thing… the ice cream man was slowly making its way to his cul-de-sac.

His daughter bolted out the door in sheer excitement at the prospect of a delicious frozen treat, only to find a ’72 Chevy van, pushing blue smoke out of its tailpipe, pulling up to their curb.

The shirtless man, poked his head outside the van and while his daughter jumped back and screamed in terror, she still placed her order, costing her dad $16 for four popsicles for the whole family.

That got Lamb thinking… that’s great marketing, to scare a child but still get an order out of it. But, he imagined, what if the truck that slithered down the streets of your subdivision was clean, not to mention the seller, and cheaper to boot? An idea and a sweet icy treat were born.

“It’s not a new anything—it’s a new spin on an old favorite,” said the father of four who turned his disgust into a thriving business dubbed, “Where the fun hits the streets.”

But if you’re thinking this is your typical sno-cone with rough pieces that tear the roof of your mouth in the first bite, with four flavors to choose from for a topping, think again, said Lamb. We’re talking 100 flavors and “a gazillion” combinations flowing over fluffy, shaved ice. However, just like those vintage sno-cones, beware, these too will stain your tongue the color of the sugary syrup. 

Since launching in 2007, making a mere $200,000 (or so), Lamb, a former marketing consultant, has turned his 10 Kona Ice trucks into 415 franchised trucks across 42 states, aka ‘Kona Kountry,’ and as of last week, one truck in Panama.

In 2012, his revenue, not including, the franchise sales, was $11.6 million and his projection for 2013 is more than $20 million. In fact, Entrepreneur magazine named Kona Ice to its Franchise 500® list, ranking as the No. 1 “New Franchise,” and No. 26 in the “Fastest Growing Franchise” category.

One of those franchise owners is located in Dallas, Texas, and that’s where the bachelorette will be introduced to Kona Ice.

During the week eight episode, “ The Bachelorette” contestant, Desiree Hartsock, will follow her suitors to their hometown for a date.

Zak Waddell, a hedge fund manager from Dallas, will take Hartsock for a ride in his father's Kona Ice truck. The pair will hand out Kona cups in his community and donate proceeds to a nearby school, which is, “the best part of Kona Ice,” said Lamb.

To date, the company has donated $100,000 locally to Boone County through schools, church groups, youth sports and an orphanage. Overall, the Kona Ice brand has given back $10 million across the U.S.

With 6 million viewers tuning in on Monday for an approximate 9-minute segment, that $10 million could skyrocket for Kona Ice and its communities across the ‘kountry.’

While Lamb is excited at the prospect of his business being showcased in a positive light, according to Michele Toller, VP of offline investment and activation for Empower MediaMarketing, this sort of exposure could benefit Kona Ice monetarily as well.

“While it's hard to put an exact number on the Kona presence in the visit, if it were paid airtime, while the content would be different, it would cost $1.24 million,” said Toller.

Maybe Waddell and Hartsock will find love over Kona Ice, but one thing is for sure, Lamb said he falls in love every day with the excitement of his customers of all ages.

“Eighty-year-olds reminisce about sno-cones and 8-year-olds look at it and think ‘sugar!’” he laughed.

You can catch “ The Bachelorette” and Kona Ice on Channel 9 Monday, at 8 p.m.


Kona Ice video parodies of 'The Bachelorette' episode:

The 30-second Parody:  http://youtu.be/IkAzPx-jHO8

The Full Parody:  http://youtu.be/LetpvLjd7zQ

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