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Shaved ice truck brings more than just treats

By Caitlin Cook, Staff writer
Joey Simonton waits on customers at his Kona Ice truck at Coonskin Park. Simonton runs the operation with his wife, Jocelyn. The two work with local schools, organizations and teams for fundraising events. Joey writes a check for 20 percent of the profits from fundraising events.
LAWRENCE PIERCE | Saturday Gazette-Mail photos A young boy selects a flavor at Joey Simonton’s Kona Ice truck at Coonskin Park on a cool April afternoon. Simonton travels throughout the Charleston and Huntington areas to local parks, schools and sporting events.
Joey Simonton hands a customer shaved ice. The Kona Ice truck has a “flavorwave” on the side of the truck that allows customers to select and mix flavors. Joey is expanding his business this year into Cabell County and Appalachian Power Park.

Joey and Jocelyn Simonton bring a bit of Hawaii to West Virginia all while giving back to their community.

The husband and wife team cruises through Charleston to the sound of steel drum music to local parks, schools and sporting events with their colorful, eye-catching Kona Ice truck. The two partner with local schools for fundraising events. During the events, a portion of the sales benefits the schools.

In their third year of business the couple is expanding into new territory and eager to help more schools.

“Business is the way we need it to be,” Joey said. “I’ll go to Sam’s or even to the gas station and I’ll get business.”

So far Joey said they have worked with about 20 area schools to host events.

“A lot of the schools will hire us because it’s too hard to find volunteers to run their concession stands,” Joey said. “And they have to rent a snow cone machine and make the mess.”

At the end of each event Joey writes a check for 20 percent of the sales.

“Tell me where to park and who to write the check to,” he said. “That’s all they have to do.”

The Kona Ice truck packs shaved ice as well as ice cream for customers. Joey said the truck allows customers to have a more personal experience.

Kids waited in line patiently to pick and mix flavors that dispensed from the side of the truck.

Joey was attracted to the Kona franchise because of the truck, which he describes as a billboard on four wheels, and the company’s tradition of giving back to the communities franchisees operate in.

Nationwide, Kona Ice has donated more than $10 million to community organizations during the past five years, a corporate spokeswoman said.

Since July 2013, the Simontons donated more than $25,000.

Joey said schools have used the donations to buy new technology as well as athletic equipment.

“It just depends on what they need at the time,” Joey said. “It’s good to help the schools out.”

The two are looking forward to assisting more schools and organizations as they expand their territory into Milton, Barboursville and Huntington.

The new routes west start next week, Joey said. A truck would drive that way two or three times a week.

By next year they will have a truck dedicated to that territory.

The couple just purchased their second truck at the end of last year. They also have a new mini cart they are using at Appalachian Power baseball games.

It’s the first season they’ve been a vendor at the ballpark.

“We exceeded our expectations on opening night,” he said. “The whole weekend was a blast.”

Next week Joey is also switching to flavors that contain 40 percent less sugar. He’ll carry a new sports mix flavor that includes vitamin C and electrolytes for rehydration.

Joey said working with his wife is always fun.

“She’s a kid at heart too,” he said.

During the summer they have a Friday-night date night at Live on the Levee and bring the Kona truck.

“We are going to be down there listening to music anyway,” he said. “To be down there working is even more fun.”

Joey believes giving back and volunteering has always been ingrained in him. He travels to Cuba and the Philippines for mission trips with his wife and church.

“To have a business that will allow me to [go on mission trips] as well as do fundraisers and give back to the community all while I’m operating is a real bonus,” Joey said. “I never thought of doing it that way.”

Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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