machine owner spotlight

John Byrd

Elizabethton, TN

Bart and Kevin are long time friends after working together for many years. It was natural for them to go into business together and become The Ice Guys! They currently own 3 machines in the Havana area with plans to eventually own 10. What Bart and Kevin appreciate most about the ice business is the passive income it provides, allowing them more time for their hobbies and family.


John Byrd – Elizabethton, TN

“My name is Jon Byrd. I’ve been in the restaurant business all my life. My parents started when I was five years old. It’s all I’ve ever known. I’m a second generation KFC franchisee, also have a mini storage facility. And I’ve opened this restaurant, JB’s Burgers & Ice Cream, five years ago. And got into the ice business about seven months ago.

Me and my dad and several of our buddies used to travel on motorcycles and play golf in Georgia and Florida and Alabama and we saw the machines time after time. And it piqued our interest in that would be a great idea and a great addition to what we already do. In doing the research for the ice machines, I looked at Twice The Ice, I looked at Kooler Ice, I looked and did probably two months worth of research on the internet. And in looking through all that, the feedback that I got was Kooler Ice machine-wise, footprint-wise, customer satisfaction-wise was the way to go.

A piece of property came available right next to my restaurant and about six months before I put the machine in, I contacted Kooler Ice and I decided to go with the largest machine, the 2500. When the machine got delivered, it got delivered on an afternoon, it was about two o’clock in the afternoon, and we started selling ice and making money the very next morning.

Once we put the machine in, I had expectations of what it was going to do. I had hopes and expectations. And the machine has exceeded those expectations. I wanted something on my land, that I purchased right next to my restaurant, had a building on it, it was really blocking my view here. And I wanted something to help pay for that land. Well, the machine has far exceeded that and I’m now currently looking for more locations to put more machines.

When I first got the machine, I decided to get the coupons that were available that vend free ice to anybody that has a coupon. And I gave those to fire departments, construction workers, several other people, several organizations that we try to help. And word of mouth has been the biggest thing that I’ve done. But also from my restaurant I can vend free ice to customers that just pull up and they wonder where did that come from. And that got people talking as well and it has taken off.

But the machine itself is the best advertising. I did like the machine with the led lights all the way around. And the machine, 24 hours a day, but especially at night the machine looks fantastic. And it’s a billboard in itself, which does great at advertising.

The machine has many things that I like. The main thing is the portal. Being in a KFC business and a mini storage business and another restaurant, the ice machine is the only one that I can look at my phone and know exactly how many sales we’ve had today. I can vend ice, I can change prices, I can shut the machine down. It’s the easiest business that I’m involved in.

And Kooler Ice is a company from the very beginning of my conversations with them, the emails, the phone calls, the friendliness of the staff, even the individual that delivered it and his, I mean, we got along great. It’s been second to none. I feel like instead of a customer, I feel like a friend.

Anybody looking to get into the ice business, if you have the space and the water and the electricity, just do it. Go ahead, don’t wait. You’re leaving money on the table that could be yours today. Because one machine will lead to two machines will lead to more machines. It is the easiest, no employees to manage, as long as you can load bags and unload money, it’s the way to go.”