The Bergers’ Kona Ice Truck offers a shaved ice experience like no other. With 30 different flavors and 500 combinations, it is no wonder why people, children and adults, come to the truck with a smile. They indulge in a cool treat while listening to the sounds of tropical Calypso music.
The mobile franchise company Kona Ice has made an impact in local community organizations across the United States and has contributed $82 million to non-profit organizations throughout the nation since 2007. Locals Stacy and Dave Berger began their journey with Kona Ice earlier this year.
They received the mobile shaved ice truck in February, but did not fully start operations until May 1, Stacy Berger told the Enterprise on Tuesday. Kona Ice is considered “essential” during the pandemic because it is categorized under “mobile food.”
However, all the events the Bergers were planning on attending with the truck had canceled, including the Calaveras County Fair and the local farmers markets.
The family was on a trip when they heard the news that the upcoming events had been canceled.
They were in tears, Stacy Berger said, but they had to change their mindset to figure out what would work. They called the homeowners association to get involved and friends offered their driveways for the truck.
Exposure grew quickly, and the Bergers received more phone calls requesting the truck to come to small events for office appreciation and birthday parties (social distancing a given).
Starting a business at the beginning of the pandemic’s lockdown process was a challenge for the Berger family, but the circumstances enabled them to find a new approach to find customers, increase revenue and give back to the community they love.
As president of the local parent teacher association, Stacy Berger said she knows how difficult it is to have funding for charities and organizations. To be able to give back in that way, the feeling of just being able to give back, is so amazing, she said.
In 2015, just before Thanksgiving, the Berger family had suffered a setback.
Dave Berger had an accident which broke his back, Stacy Berger said. After, though, the community really came together and offered the family support by leaving gifts and food on their doorstep to help during the tough time. That is when Stacy Berger started researching community-based marketing and decided she wanted to find a way to give back to her community.
Stacy Berger said when she was looking for a new business to start, she knew she wanted something that could potentially involve her three kids – ages 8, 10 and 12.
“(We were looking for) something to have flexible hours so we could spend time with the kids,” she said. “It’s also ironic because my husband is a dentist and now I sell sugar.”
The truck is evolving into a family business.
“(The) goal for us is to have the kids work the business when they are teenagers, so they will become contributing members to society,” Stacy Berger said. “It’ll be good for them to learn to communicate with people, especially adults, in the service industry.”
The Kona Ice Truck of Calaveras, Mono and Tuolumne counties has given back $2,000 within the last few months, given the circumstances.
Some of the organizations the Bergers give back to are the Sierra United Youth Soccer, Mother Lode Christian School, Summerville Elementary and High Voltage Dance Academy.
Many other Kona Ice Trucks have not been faring too well, but theirs has mainly because of the mentality and mindset they put into it from the beginning, Stacy Berger said.
In offering advice to other small businesses, Stacy Berger said, “Find that niche. Find what your business has to offer the community. Open your mind and try to find a different way of approach. Every business has the opportunity to fill a void somewhere.”
On one of the first nights of sheltering in place, Stacy Berger said, “The truck was so busy and we had nonstop service. In this time, this is what our community needed.”
For more information or to book the Kona Ice Truck, contact Stacy Berger at email@example.com or call 768-0341. A list of regular locations is available on their Facebook page.