Everest Owner Steve Slagle

A realistic look at managing an ice and water vending business.Watch the interview

Everest Owner Steve Slagle

Featuring Owner

Steve Slagle of Beachside Ice

Steve Slagle

Beachside Ice

Location: Florida Panhandle / Gulf of Mexico
Number of Machines: 8
Owner since 2021

Key Takeaways

  • Have a relationship with the company you are working with.
  • Do your research: about the industry, your customers, the location, etc.
  • Understand the product and the operations of the machine.

Steve Slagle believes that other owners should be aware to maintain realistic expectations about starting an ice & water vending business. In any new venture, the idea of simply buying the product or buying the machine, installing it, and instantly turning revenue is unrealistic. You have to go into it knowing it’s a business and knowing it’s going to start to take time. Time invested is a direct equation into revenues and success. The more time and energy you’re willing to put in it, the greater chances of success you will see. Conversely, if you’re not willing to put in the time or the energy, you may not see the ROI.

Strong partner relationships are key to business growth and success.

After doing months of research through various companies, Everest was the only company Steve and his wife felt they could develop a partnership with. Partnership and collaboration was very important to Steve because he was getting into an industry that ha had not been in the past. After the first phone call, Steve had a lot of questions and Everest helped answer them and provided the information he needed. Steve pulled the trigger on two machines right off the bat and was very blessed to have great success. Within less than a year, he added a third machine, and within a few months of that, added a fourth machine.

“The more time and energy you’re willing to put in it, the greater chances of success you will see.”

Currently, Steve is looking to potentially buy even more machines. Steve Slagle continually appreciates the continues service from Everest. “I like being able to call back to people that I’ve talked to before, recognizing their first names,” says Steve. “They recognize mine. And that sort of relationship to me and my business is invaluable.”

Maintenance on your machine regularly is an essential part of the business.

“A lot of our issues come from wear and tear. A little button might wear out, but it’s only because it’s selling so much ice. The button is getting pressed so many times a day, it breaks. I’ll take that problem every day of the week because I’m okay with it. Selling that much ice, you’ve got to meet them in the middle. You do your part, they’re going to do their part,” Steve says about his experience maintenancing his machines.

When Steve needs one of his machines maintenanced, Steve works almost exclusively with Uriel, who has been absolutely amazing every step of the way. “Anytime we’ve needed Uriel has been there 100%. The machine is a machine. It’s going to have something at some point that’s going to break, whether it’s a wear and tear item or just simply something that’s going to break just in time. We deal with it in our cars, we deal with it in our homes. You deal it with anything. These days, breaking something isn’t important to me. It’s how it’s fixed.”

“The service there to fix [the machines] is what’s important. And I can honestly say Everest has done it 100% every time.”

Steve had some instances where he needed parts very quickly and worked with Uriel and his team to get the necessary parts in two days, or sometimes even less, and got the machine back up and running. “The service there to fix that is what’s important. And I can honestly say Everest has done it 100% every time.”

Understanding prime location opportunities with the help of Everest.

Steve Slagle spent quite a bit of time talking with Marko Orsborne and Gilbert Ramirez, bouncing creative ideas off one another to hone where the best locations are for his ice vending business. Slagle decided on going after the Gulf of Mexico first. “Ice sales are relatively easy on the beach when it’s 98 degrees outside.”

An Everest Ice Machine near a bar and pool
Everest Ice Machine location

The panhandle of Florida sees a tremendous influx of tourism for about eight months out of the year which provided Steve with many possible location opportunities. He found condominium and resort complexes that will have the machines to only serve their specific clientele. “One of the reasons that attracted us into those locations was we immediately had a captive audience. We know people are going to be there.” Having the majority of their machines in gated communities also provided Steve security, which was very important to him. “Having the machine there behind a gated access puts a little bit of our minds at ease. We know the machine is going to be taken care of where they’re at.” Steve’s goal is to continue expansion in the areas on the Gulf of Mexico because “we’ve seen the returns come back quicker than anticipated. So we’ve kind of found our little niche.”

Marketing and advertising are crucial to build a successful business.

One of the most important things for anybody to realize as they get into this, is that it is a business. “It is not simply to get a machine, put it somewhere, and now you’re consistently making money. It’s a new business and you have to treat it as such. And it’s no different than starting a car dealership or starting any sort of new company. It requires that investment.”

Steve explains that marketing and advertising is a huge portion of that investment because you’ve got to get people to realize what the machine is. It’s still a relatively new product. People may drive by and not realize what that big blue box is. So you as the owner, now have to commit yourself to getting the word out there and convincing the public that you have the best value.

A screenshot of the Beachside Ice, LLC website

“We did not at first, and I’ll be honest, I’ll be guilty of it. I didn’t see the value in it in the first eight to ten months. I relied more on sort of word of mouth, the machine’s location, people finding it sort of organically. As we got into the advertising, I quickly realized the error in my way.” Steve’s advertising budget in the first year was only about $350 for the entire year. And the return on that advertising dollar came back three to four times. Steve urges ice and water business owners to spend the money on the marketing and the advertising. “There’s direct mail, there’s digital. All the social media platforms are available to those. So you’ve really got to get creative a little bit and think about getting that word out there. And I always tell folks, if you’re not good at those sorts of things, that’s fine. Find somebody who is. Talk to your friend, network, your family network. Ask other business owners. How do you get the word out there?”

Watch the full interview with Steve Slagle

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