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A most perfect Ice Day is coming to NKY — 1200 Kona Ice franchisees celebrate, give back

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune reporter

Global Warming.

Not here.

Not in Northern Kentucky.

At least not during a four-day stretch in February – that’s when over 1,200 Kona Ice franchisees and franchise employees will travel to Northern Kentucky from 49 states and Canada.

From Konvention 2022, honoring Fairhaven Mission. (Photos provided)

It’s the 2023 Kona Ice Konvention – February 2-5 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.

“It’s only for our franchises, and not open to the public,” Darren Varnado, Sr. VP, Operational Support and Development told the Northern Kentucky Tribune. “It’s billed as Wild Wild Kona.”

This is a time where franchisees will be inspired and educated to do what they do best – serve and give back to their communities.

Have an Ice Day

Since 2007 – the inception of Kona Ice – the company has given back over $120 million to schools and community organizations, according to a Kona prepared statement.

Kona Ice franchisees have sold out Covington-area hotels with their “Great Penguin Migration,” on February 1st – before the Konvention commences – according to the statement.

Franchisees plan to gather and donate tangible items and funds to the Fairhaven Rescue Mission. This initiative was completely franchisee driven, the statement read – a way for them to give back to the community where it all began – in Northern Kentucky.

So how did it all begin?

It seems an ice cream truck drove up to the home of the company’s future CEO – Tony Lamb. Tony’s daughter was hesitant to even approach it.

Lamb started thinking – what if the truck was clean? What if the driver was warm and friendly and presentable? What if the product was actually good? What if they actually cared about the community they served?

Tony Lamb

So, Lamb wanted to get back to that time-honored tradition – this time with shaved ice.

Kona Ice was born.

In June, 2007, the very first Kona Ice truck hit the streets – and it was Lamb doing the driving in Boone County.

The next year, Lamb decided to start franchising and the very first Kona Ice franchise was awarded.

Fifteen franchises were awarded in 2008 – and the website www.kona-ice.com was started.

Kona Ice, the renowned mobile shaved ice company and largest food truck franchise in the world – based in Florence, Ky. – reportedly reached more than 1,400 trucks on the streets and a total of 1,500 operating service stations at the end of 2022.

The company also celebrated its milestone 15th anniversary last year, becoming the largest mobile franchise in less than two decades since its inception.

Konventioneers 2022

And over the 12-month period – 2022 – the brand reached more than $100 million in total donations since its founding in 2007.

“We’re eternally grateful to all those who have supported Kona Ice to become the beloved brand we are today,” said CEO and Founder Tony Lamb. “Without our Kona family – our franchisees – and the communities and individuals that continue to love and support us, we could not have evolved into the business we are now. I’m looking forward to welcoming many more talented entrepreneurs into our franchise system in the new year. And, of course, continuing to make a positive impact on the lives of our customers, friends and neighbors in communities worldwide.”

Kona Ice provides entrepreneurs interested in investing in the franchise a full suite of support services including initial and ongoing training as well as sales and marketing programs.

The Kona Ice investment ranges in price from $127,750 — $151,550 which includes working capital and a typical franchise fee of $20,000. Finance programs are in place to support qualified entrepreneurs in their Kona Ice investment.

A Kona Ice entertainment vehicle

The Kona Ice Brand – and Konvention – returns after missing 2021 due to the pandemic. Plans call for more than 1,000 franchisees, managers and a strong collection of vendor partners together in Northern Kentucky.

“The annual Konvention allows us to celebrate the milestones we’ve reached together, while also providing us the opportunity to make a positive impact in Northern Kentucky,” Lamb said.

The Konvention, according to Lamb, will make a $1 million impact on the community, spiking business at local restaurants, hotels, the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, Cincinnati Hard Rock Casino, Covington’s Fairhaven Missions Homeless Shelter and more.

Their motto – Just Have an Ice Day.

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