For the last 14 years, Barry Hill, 36, and his wife Maranda, 34, lived the military life. Having been stationed on bases from Hawaii to Georgia to their current base of Camp Pendleton in Southern California, the U.S. Marine Corps couple endured four deployments before Hill was wounded in Afghanistan. Now, they are retiring earlier than originally planned and heading into a new life. “We didn’t really have a Plan B,” Maranda admits. “The original plan was to stay in for 30 years or more.”
But they quickly found their new plan and now they are franchisees of Ice House America, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based business that franchises IceBorn ice vending machines. It was a business model the Louisiana natives thought was “cool” concept and one they could handle despite no previous business experience. “Whenever we were on leave we’d go home [to Lousiana] and over the last eight years we started noticing these ice machines in the Walmart parking lot and places like that,” Maranda says. “Our families are avid outdoorsmen and we would regularly visit one of the machines and like it from the customer’s point of view. We also noticed there were none on the West Coast.” There is now. The Hills opened their first unit on the San Ononfre Beach near at Camp Pendelton and have worked out approval for three more on the base, as well as other locales. The couple’s goal is to expand to 20 machines on various bases. It’s a business model that allows the couple to be self-employed while still living maintaining their lifestyle. “We wanted to be self-employed,” Maranda says. “We looked into a car wash and things like that, but we were always drawn back to Ice House America.” One of the reasons, Maranda says, was that Ice House America offered not only a veteran-friendly environment but also a franchisee-friendly environment. “A lot of the franchises we looked at dictated everything. Ice House America encourages you to own the machine and understands that if your location doesn’t work, you can move it to somewhere that will be better,” she says.
Ice House America honors military veterans by offering service members a discount through the International Franchise Association’s VetFran program. Ice House America is proud to waive the startup fee and the first 12 months of royalties to all qualifying military veterans.
About Ice House America:
Ice House America, headquartered in Jacksonville, FL and founded in 2003, already has more than 2,700 installed and independently owned ice house locations in 27 states. There are over 100 corporate-owned Ice House locations, with the balance independently owned and operated. In addition to being chosen as “Top New Franchises to Watch” in 2014, landing on Entrepreneur’s 2014 Franchise 500 list, IceBorn was named a 2013 Military Friendly Franchise by Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs and Vetrepreneur.