Pivoting your business plan to develop the most success for your business.Watch the interview

Featuring Owner

Tom Kenyon of Coastal Water and Ice

Tom Kenyon

Coastal Water and Ice

Location: Cape May, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland
Number of Machines: 5
Owner since 2021

Key Takeaways

  • Advertisements and a marketing plan helped make a successful business.
  • Develop and identify your location and customers – keep experimenting.
  • Utilize the mobility of the machines and find your perfect location.

When starting his ice vending business, Tom Kenyon’s original intention in his business plan was to purchase five machines. After getting all five machines delivered and installed, Tom recognized how well they operated and discussed with Everest on how he can expand his business further. According to Tom, an important piece in his success was that Everest was very responsive for every step of the journey. From machine operation issues to location suggestions, Everest has been very easy to work with and very knowledgeable. “I took a trip out to Everest. I spent some time with the fellas out there, but I’ll tell you, they were very helpful on the operations side. And also we needed to put together a marketing plan. And the folks in the marketing department were extremely helpful as well.”

Marketing your business for success.

Tom Kenyon developed a marketing plan that consisted of sending brochures and flyers. Tom also hosted marketing giveaway events and gave free hats, koozies, and other fun trinkets. “But I think what was very helpful in the beginning too is we have our website we set up and we did a lot of online advertising on the machines and the locations that we had selected.” The locations that Tom placed his machines also provided their own advertisement as well.

A screenshot of Tom Kenyan's website
A screenshot of Tom Kenyan's website

Researching your target audience and identifying locations.

For new people that are looking to get into this business, Tom Kenyon recommends you to spend a lot of time developing and identifying locations. “We originally started out identifying locations where there were already high volumes of sales in ice. And we went into it with the intent that the property owner was going to make us the sole provider of ice on the properties. In some cases that didn’t work out, in other cases, it did.” In addition to research adequately on location, new potential business owners should also research and identify your customer base. “You need to interview people, talk to people. You want to do your best to be a captive audience. There’s different customers that are out there. There are customers that are just concerned about keeping their beverages cold or their fish cold, if they’re anglers. There’s other customers out there that are really concerned about the quality of the product. So two completely different customer bases. So it’s important that you’re comfortable with whichever you select.”

In addition to research adequately on location, new potential business owners should also research and identify your customer base.

Because Tom has machines in Cape May, Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland, he understood that sales will be essential between months of April and October due to the cold weather in the wintertime. However, Tom researched that there were limited resources available for people to find ice in the towns he wanted to place machines in. “You want to have a captive audience and our locations are providing that for us.”

Changing your business strategy to adapt.

However, Tom Kenyon completely rewrote his business plan and developed a different customer base than he originally intended. “We were able to work through those, and a lot of those problems could very easily have been avoided if I had known more about the machines and about the operation of the machines.” Tom recommends new business owners to do adequate research on machine operations to help prevent operational issues. “We’ve been in business now for three years and we’re still looking to get to that peak point where all the machines are operating.”

Tom continues to move machines around because while some machines are doing very well, others are only doing okay when there is potential to do much better. One of Tom’s key feature that he values very much in the Everest machines is the mobility of the machines. “The other machines, it’s much more different to do. In some cases you may need specialty plumbing and specialty wiring. But that machine can be picked up. It can be moved and relocated within a day and we’ve done it. We relocated several machines.”

An Everest Ice and Water vending machine outside of Paradise Landing

Tom Kenyon has bought and operates 16 machines located in RV parks, restaurants, town housing complexes, and more. “It was very interesting that when you’re going through that process, you’re meeting individuals at different companies and you get a feeling there’s got to be a connection with the company you’re dealing with. And I just happen to have a connection with the folks at Everest.”

Watch the full interview with Tom Kenyon

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