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Molalla home to first Kona Ice in Oregon

Molalla is home to the first Kona Ice truck in Oregon. Mark and Lisa Burk began selling the shaved ice on Aug. 1, and so far, Mark said, things are going well.

“The secret is, it’s not about the snow cones,” he said. “It’s about the experience.”

The truck plays Calypso music and has a “Flavorwave” full of flavors with names like tiger's blood and groovy grape, which patrons add to their ice themselves. As with any large franchise, it’s all copyrighted.

“The truck is everything,” Mark said.by: CORY MIMMS - Mark Burk in front of his Kona Ice truck, the first one based in Oregon. He and his wife, Lisa, operate the truck.

To become a Kona Ice seller, it costs between $105,000 and $120,000, Mark said. The truck is the biggest chunk of that. It cost him $85,000.

For Mark, it’s worth it. He used to work in computer support in Portland. “I worked for myself a few times,” he said, and for a couple years he’s been looking to do it again.

However, making a major life change—quitting a good job to sell shaved ice—didn’t come without a few raised eyebrows.

People were surprised,” Mark said. “You got to be almost half crazy. It takes a lot of guts.”

One of the reasons he purchased this franchise was because it donates a lot of money back to the community. According to their website, nationwide Kona Ice donated more than $3 million last year, and the franchise has donated more than $10 million since its start in 2007.

When Burk parks at a game, he gives 30 percent of his earnings back to the school. His first month in business, he donated more than $650. He's worked games at Colton High School already and would like to start working at Molalla High School.

“It’s nice to give back to the community,” he said.

With his purchase of the truck, Oregon became the 42nd state to host Kona Ice, which Entrepreneur Magazine voted the number one new 2013 franchise.

The biggest obstacle to overcome in Oregon is the short summer. To make it work, the Burks are trying to purchase a mini version of the truck, one that is capable of moving indoors.

In the meantime, they’re hitting the neighborhoods, going to high school games, and building their presence as much as possible before the wet months come.

With a mobile business like Kona Ice, guarding territory is important. The franchise sells exclusive territory rights to its owners.

Currently, the Burks own Oregon City, Canby and Woodburn. However, because they’re the only Kona Ice in the area, they do still sell in Molalla and Colton. They simply haven’t purchased the rights from the franchise yet.

Burk said he will if another truck comes into the state, but for now he’s saving the $10,000 it would cost to own the area.

Lisa still works her day job, but after she gets off she spends her time in the truck with Mark. They’ve even thought about buying another truck so they both can run one fulltime.



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  • 22 Oct 2014

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  • 23 Oct 2014

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