January 29 Family Business Story Summary
Imagine – your own personal ice cream machine – well actually several machines. At the January lunch, Gina Ruttan not only told us about her business – The Fro.Zen Trolley – but let us taste her products. Gina is the next generation at Systems Plus in Baden, but besides helping out there, she launched her own business two years ago.
The Fro.Zen Trolley is a food truck that has soft-serve frozen ice cream, gelato, Greek Organic frozen yogurt and even dairy-free and vegan options. But the added feature is that people get to serve themselves from the machines (Who didn’t grow up wishing they could make their own cone at Dairy Queen?)
After folks fill their dish with their choice of flavours, they dress it up with fresh strawberries and other fruit, chocolate pieces, sprinkles, cookie dough, gummies, as well as chocolate, caramel and other sauces. Make your own sundae!
Although Gina took university degrees in business and public administration, she decided she would rather run her own business. She decided against a traditional bricks-and-mortar store and instead customized a trailer to include three soft-serve machines, sinks, refrigeration and a generator.
That Trolley is at the St. Jacobs Farmers Market from May to October. But she also found that people wanted her for parties, and last spring she designed a smaller unit – “The Events Trolley.” The Troley – which can go indoors or outside – was busy at weddings, anniversaries, company parties and other events.
Gina noted that while she had a couple of summer employees, it was family and friends who were her biggest help. She also shared some of the challenges of starting a new business model – getting enough water to operate the first day, keeping the heat down so the machines would function properly, and generating sales with a new concept. She said there are challenges starting your own business in an entrepreneurial family – too many cooks in the kitchen; finding each other’s strengths; and juggling time commitments.
website: www.thefrozentrolley.ca Twitter: @Fro.ZenTrolley