Steve, a 42-Year-Old, Has Ice Vending Side Hustle

Steve Ice Vending
Steve Slagle’s Ice Vending Side Hustle Success

Steve Slagle, a 42-year-old entrepreneur from Panama City Beach, Florida, started an ice vending machine business that made $33,000 last year. It only takes 2 hours a week to run. I bought two ice vending machines and started selling ice and water in February 2022 as a second income stream. By October, the vending machines had brought in $33,000 in revenue.

I saw the demand for ice after working in hospitality and restaurants for almost a decade. In 2016, I bought a small restaurant and bar on the beach in Panama City Beach, Florida. Beachgoers would often stop and ask if we sold ice. We started packaging ice and selling it.

I sold the restaurant in 2019, but the demand for ice stuck with me

After selling the restaurant, I started a small construction company. The company was successful, but I couldn’t shake the idea of selling ice. I no longer had a storefront in Panama Beach City, Florida, where I live, so I started researching ice vending machines.

I looked into the companies making these machines, the products that existed, where ice-machine entrepreneurs put their machines, and how people were servicing them. I noticed a gap in serving what I call the vacation market in my area. Outside of the big-box grocery stores or convenience stores, there wasn’t a lot of ice vending going on in Panama City Beach. Noticing that gap convinced me to pursue the side hustle. After four months of researching ice vending on Google, I found an ice machine I wanted to buy in October 2021.

I requested a sales call with the company to discuss my investment

I had six calls with the ice-vending-machine company before making the purchase deal. I knew from my experience with ice machines at my old restaurant that they could have maintenance issues. Three weeks after contacting Everest, the ice-machine company, I bought two vending machines in November 2021. First you sign an “intent to purchase” contract. The two ice machines I purchased cost $50,000 each because they’re Everest’s largest ice-production models. You then pay 50% of the machine cost as a down payment. The company then starts production of the machine. You can finance the other 50% through a company called Leaf Financial that Everest works with; the terms vary based on the individual’s creditworthiness and risk.

In total, I paid $50,000 from savings I had from my construction business up front as a down payment for two machines. So far I’ve been able to pay back 50% of my loan. The machines should be fully paid off by August. The machines were ready by February 2022, and we arranged shipping dates and locations. By early March they were installed in two large condominium complexes in Panama City Beach.I’d built a relationship with the management of the complexes, as I had done some construction work for them.

We put our machines in these complexes because they’re booked on Airbnb and Vrbo. The complexes offer a captive customer base of thousands of people each week who are often on vacation and heading to the beach.

Almost all my vending-machine management can be done remotely

The machines vend precisely the amount of ice or water a customer purchases. Customers can collect it with our bags or their cooler. I saw a return on my investment quickly. After about two months, the ice machines generated enough revenue to cover the expenses and show a bottom-line profit. At first the profit was a couple hundred dollars, but it increased as the business became more popular. Now the machines generate a monthly profit of $2,000 to $3,000.

The ice machines are a side hustle I comfortably manage myself

When I create my weekly schedule, I plan time for managing the ice machines. I spend two hours a week maintaining and cleaning the machines. I live 15 minutes from the machines, but I could have a friend check on them if I’m on vacation and see something remotely that needs to be addressed.

I still have my construction company, and it’s my primary income, but the ice machines are a recession-proof side hustle. People will travel to the beaches in Florida, and they’ll always want ice. I’m considering buying two or even four more machines, as I’ve gotten calls from more condominium complexes asking me to place our machines there.

Source: Business Insider

Also see: Ice Vending, Water Vending, Suppliers Directory