machine owner spotlight
Ryan Erickson has been in the construction business for 20 years and recently has started his own ice vending business with Kooler Ice! Ryan first became interested in Kooler Ice when he wanted to make use of an empty commercial lot. Since then he has created a fleet of machines in his area and is in the process of acquiring a location for a seventh machine.
“Hello my name is Ryan Erickson. We own a construction company, amongst some other things, and we recently got into the ice water vending business. We’ve been in the residential construction business for almost 20 years now. That’s all we’ve ever done and over the past, oh, five to eight years we’ve started to kind of get into some other stuff whether it be residential real estate, a little bit of commercial real estate, we also do have a fireworks business. We’d sell retail fireworks.
I’ve got a wife and two kids, two girls that keep me busy and the Kooler Ice thing just kind of came out … We had some real estate with an empty parking lot so I thought what can we do with this? And Kooler Ice was my first day to day … We have an office here. The construction company is the main thing we do. Everybody who works out of here has a hand in all the different things that we do.
My girls are 14 and 12 so a freshman and a seventh grader so we’re busy with chasing them around, volleyball and track and when we’re not doing that we’re going to Georgia to the lake and boating. We like to go to Table Rock Lake so we go to Kansas too and in the wintertime when we can’t do that we like to do some deer hunting and cut firewood and being outdoors as much as possible. We live in the country so we’ve got acreage and like to enjoy it.
When we had this piece of property that was standing in the parking lot and thought what can we do with this space I asked one of partners and thought this. I started researching it and researched several brands. Several reasons that caused us to land with Kooler Ice brand. One, as we looked at the other machines just visually Kooler Ice had the best looking machine, the cleanest looking machine. Some other brands of machines wanted you to have territory where you could put another machine close to somebody else and all that and getting locked into that was not appealing to us at all. We wanted to be able to do what we wanted with the machines.
Then, honestly I think I emailed Kooler Ice, I clicked on the contact deal I wasn’t within a day that Matt called me back. Our first machine was a big kind of learning process. It was probably, out of all our locations because we have six now, it was the most difficult location to put a machine so it kind of … We didn’t know that at the time. We had to go under the street, cut the street, we were just surprised all the time how well it did on a weekday and some of the other vendors, contractors, plumbers, electricians, concrete that helped us install the machine have been using it, really like it and kept talking about it. One location kind of led to the next and somebody said, “What about this location?” So I contacted them.
Two of our locations were actually bought out of existing water kiosks. It was just water only so I had a very base customer of water customers. So we put a machine in there that was ice and water and they’ve just really done well. We’re in the process of trying to get a lease for our seventh location right now.
Piece of advice for anybody wanting to get in the business, research your location not only for your traffic, people and possible sales but I also say research your location for the difficulty of installing the machine if it’s an area of a parking lot and you have water and sewer and all that. Consider your climate. Here we do get below freezing quite a bit so be prepared for that to have revisions for the machine to drain to where it will function to keep our machines functioning all winter long because the water customers are year round.
The reason why I’d recommend Kooler Ice, one easy to operate. The machine is very easy to operate. They’re basically pull and pay once you get them set down in the parking lot. The installers that come out and help you get them started are great with explaining, so from the sales team to the service on the phone if you have to call anybody, ask any questions, figure out if something is not working right that’s all been really good. The ease of operation for us and the consumer. The technology is great. The Ice Talk on our phones alerts us if something is wrong, low on bags, whatever we might need to do. We know about it, we can take time to go take care of it or shut it down for a little period of time if we have to so we can get there.
By far Kooler Ice’s communication and follow-up it really follows our business model in our other businesses too. We’re very committed to communication and working through things and making it right.”
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