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Episode 5: Disrupting the Future of Ice with Better Processes and Great People

March 17, 2023

How can you improve on ice delivery? It's an industry that's been around for centuries, yet it hadn't changed much — then, it was chopped-up chunks of ice on the back of a buggy, and now, companies are manufacturing ice in a plant and putting it on a diesel truck with a heavy carbon footprint for delivery. "We believe that this is a space that can be easily disrupted," said Ben Gaskill, Director of Sales at Everest Ice and Water Systems, in our most recent podcast episode. "What we believe is that ice and water vending is the way that ice will be delivered to the consumer in the future. That we can make a better product, fresh and on demand at the point of use, where the customer is."

While ice vending machines have been around for twenty-three years, Everest Ice and Water Systems saw that they could make a better product with better technology, that's more sanitary and 30% more efficient than other machines. And customers are responding, as Everest Ice and Water has seen a three-year revenue growth of 850%.

But with growth at that scale, how can a business make sure that its operations remain efficient and its people connected? Ben Gaskill explains how in this episode of "Manufacturing the Future." 

Addressing the Challenges of Scaling

The biggest challenge for a manufacturing company is making sure you have the components you need. With the challenges to the supply chain in the past few years, Gaskill says it was critical to diversify their supply chain, and be clear in their expectations with vendors. "If there's 300 parts for your machine and you only have 299 of them, you don't have a machine. So that's the challenge, is to make sure that they all arrive, on time, as expected, and quality control is there." As such, they took steps to strengthen and diversify their supply chain.

Gaskill believes that many of the challenges that Everest Ice and Water faces can be solved by good hiring. A great purchasing team can create solutions to supply chain issues, for instance. "Not only do you have to invest in your product and invest in inventory, you have to invest in the people," Gaskill states in the podcast. "If you don't have talent, you're going to run into troubles. We understand what we don't know. And we try and go hire people that know what we don't know."

Another challenge is keeping a growing company with a growing workforce connected. From chat apps to workflow technologies, monthly lunches to recognition, Gaskill details the ways in which they keep their workforce engaged and communicating regularly. However, he advises that when it comes to technology, it's "only as good as the people that are operating it, right? You can have the greatest program in the world, but if you're using it incorrectly, if you're not training people on how to use it, then you're not getting what you need out of that bit of technology."

In This Episode…

Not only has Everest Ice and Water innovated on fresher, more sanitary, and more efficient ice vending machines, they're innovating on their operational approaches as well to sustain their business growth. Listen to our conversation with Ben Gaskill to learn more about operations in a scaling company, and why hiring the right people can provide that foundation for growth.

Topics Discussed

  • How Everest Ice and Water solves operational problems one step at a time, and uses technology to help create sustainable solutions.
  • The challenges and solutions to growing a manufacturing company, and why it's key to diversify your supply chain, to set expectations with suppliers, and to have a good purchasing team in place.
  • How Everest Ice and Water keeps their employees connected across teams and building through various chat apps, resource management tools, and even monthly lunches.
  • How Everest Ice and Water disrupted an old industry, and how they created ice vending machines that were more efficient, more sanitary, and offered a fresh product to customers.
  • Why it's key to hire well, and how hiring for gaps in your knowledge can help strengthen your operations.
  • Why you need to take risks in manufacturing, and how taking risks while surrounding yourself with great talent brings about change and growth.

Resources Mention: 

Everest Ice and Water Website

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