August 8, 2013
Bob Coleman: We’re talking to Jonathan Meltzer, Ice House America out of Jacksonville. What’s Ice House America?
Jonathan Meltzer: Ice House America is the largest franchiser for ice vending machines in the United States.
Bob Coleman: Are you national, regional?
Jonathan Meltzer: Well, we are primarily in the Southeast, but we’re national. We have 2,500 machines across the country.
Bob Coleman: Wow.
Jonathan Meltzer: That collectively vend out a billion pounds of ice per year.
Bob Coleman: I’m sorry, did you say a billion with a ‘b’?
Jonathan Meltzer: One billion pounds.
Bob Coleman: Wow, that’s pretty cool. We’re at The BoeFly Franchise Lending Spotlight Conference 2013 in Irvine. One of the themes is access to capital for franchisors for your franchisees. How do you see it from your perch? How’s that crisis affecting you?
Jonathan Meltzer: It’s certainly been challenging. Our company’s about ten years old and before the financial downturn people just had greater access to capital and frequently were using personal sources. Now it’s much harder in convincing people particularly to do a concept that may be less familiar and it’s certainly been a challenge.
Bob Coleman: Great. You and I are going to be standing here a year from now, what type of growth do you have? Do you expect are you going to be at 2 billion pounds, what do you see happening?
Jonathan Meltzer: Well, we think the sky’s the limit. From a unit perspective, we’re continuing to sell hundreds of units a year. We’ve also recently launched a new model where flagship of the Ice House is oriented around a value product offering to be twice the ice.
Bob Coleman: Well, help me out. I go buy ice and there’s a big container out in the front of the 7-eleven and I’d rather – and I run off with it. Tell me how your concept is different.
Jonathan Meltzer: So that ice is manufactured in a central facility that’s loaded onto trucks, it’s delivered, it’s probably had the chance to be in a warmer environment.
Bob Coleman: Oh, yeah, so it’s a solid bag of cubes?
Jonathan Meltzer: Right, you got to jump on out and down the parking lot. Our ice is made on the spot from – there’s an icemaker that’s integrated into our machine. As a result it’s fresh, it’s never clumped, and it’s untouched by human hands. It’s also the cleanest ice sets out there. Because we don’t have any of that cost that’s associated with the distribution, it is much cheaper to produce and we share that with our consumers.
Bob Coleman: Great.
Jonathan Meltzer: And they can buy twice the ice – I’d say twice the quantity of ice for the same price as you’d find in a convenience store. We just launched a new model called Icepoint Express which is oriented toward the convenience customers. So it’s sold – they were trying to compete directly. When you do find a convenience store, the quality of improvements that you would find from our big house, but at a price point that’s closer to what you’d see in a supermarket.
Bob Coleman: Great, Jonathan, thank you for joining us.
Jonathan Meltzer: My pleasure.