Over the past dozen years, Jacksonville-based Ice House America has built a network of 2,400 self-service ice machines in 27 states, eliminating the convenience store as middle man for consumers looking to fill up a cooler.
The company has traditionally sold the units to independent owners, who would set them up and run them independently. But under new owner Ulysses Management and CEO Peter Cotter, Ice House has created a franchise program to increase sales from the more than 1 billion pounds sold each year.
Ice House will keep its network of dealers, who sell machines in their regions, but plans to sell franchises in new regions, says Marketing Vice President Michael Little. New markets include the Southwest, California and North Dakota — where the oil and gas boom has driven demand for ice machines. In Florida, the company plans a combined model of independent owners, franchisees and company ownership.