When Mary Joggerst agreed to work for Kona Ice last year, the plan was to do the job for the summer to make a little extra money she could use to help out her two college-age children.
The undertaking did not go exactly as expected, however.
“In the process, I fell in love with it,” she said. “It’s the coolest thing ever.”
Founded by Tony Lamb, Kona Ice is a shaved ice and ice cream truck franchise dedicated to giving back to the communities it serves via a number of programs.
Today, Joggerst owns her own Kona Ice truck and counts Ste. Genevieve, Bloomsdale and several other surrounding areas as part of her sales territory.
A first-grade teacher at Valle Catholic Grade School in Ste. Genevieve, Joggerst, 49, of Ste. Genevieve, said one of the teachers she works with asked her last year in a joking manner if she wanted to take on a Kona Ice route while school was out for the summer.
Joggerst gave it some thought then agreed to do so, she said. She spent two days each week serving the Ste. Genevieve area.
Then the opportunity arose earlier this year to purchase her own Kona Ice truck. Her immediate reaction was to decline, but she quickly changed her mind, she said.
“In a matter of days, I was calling back and saying, ‘I have to have it,’” she said. “It was just one of those things. I needed it in my life.”
A 1984 graduate of Valle Catholic High School, Joggerst said she gave the truck to herself as a birthday gift. She bought it March 26. She turned 49 three days later on March 29.
The overall investment, which included the purchase of established territories, totaled more than $80,000, she said.
“It’s money well spent,” she said.
Her students were the first to hear about her purchase, she said.
“They were beyond excited,” Joggerst said. “How many people have a teacher who owns a Kona Ice truck?”
Her husband, Wayne, was a bit more skeptical when he heard the news, but he warmed up to the idea, she said.
“The more I talked about it, he relaxed,” she said. “It was something I believed in and I wanted to do.”
Joggerst spent the summer driving scheduled routes each week. She also takes her truck upon request to various community events and business sites. Activities she has participated in include car washes, sports tournaments and school fundraisers.
When working with not-for-profit organizations she always gives 20 percent of her total sales back to the group, she said.
Since April 1 she has donated more than $2,000 to entities in the Ste. Genevieve community.
It was the fundraising aspect of the business that drew her to Kona Ice.
“I can help my community,” she said. “You have a great product, but also you’re doing a great thing for your community.”
She enjoys the social aspect of being a Kona Ice representative as well, she said, noting that she often sees the same people each week when she travels her scheduled routes.
While she operates her truck personally the majority of the time, her children, her sister and a teacher friend help out now and then, she said.
“I like to be in it most of the time myself and people look for me to be in it,” she said. “For the most part, it’s me, and I probably wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Joggerst said being a Kona Ice truck owner does not interfere with her teaching job. She has no intention of giving up her teaching career.
“I get to do two things that I love, teaching and Kona Ice,” she said. “Life doesn’t get any better than that, does it?”