Refrigeration Magazine - January 2021

Page 1


Ancient Technique MADE ICE IN THE DESERT

Also Inside: Making it through the crisis – p. 11



This ancient technique to make ice in the desert is mind boggling January 2021 Vol. 204 │ No. 1 ISSN #0034-3137

EDITORIAL STAFF Editor/Publisher Mary Y. Cronley (404) 819-5446 Senior Staff Writer Joe Cronley (404) 295-5712 Art Direction Markurious Marketing (678) 439-6534

ADVERTISING, SUBSCRIPTIONS, ACCOUNTS Mary Y. Cronley Editor/Publisher (404) 819-5446 Established as ICE in 1906, Refrigeration Magazine™ is published thirteen times a year, including the Annual Buyer's Guide. Postmaster: Send notice by form 3579 to: Refrigeration Magazine 2930 Cedar Knoll Drive Roswell, GA 30076



C-STORE NEWS Foodservice Benefits as Consumer Spending at C-stores Strengthens



OUR INDUSTRY Success During Crisis By Mike Landino

MARKETING Strategies for grabbing attention on social media







SPICE What’s Next? Are You Ready?


A list of our advertisers. Be sure to support them.


Classified advertisements by region

Despite Pandemic, Nearly Six in 10 C-store Retailers Say In-Store Sales Grew in 2020

800 Bottle Tesla

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What’s Next? Are You Ready? Whether you like it or not, the direction our country is moving toward is set. We don’t do politics here, the leadership is in place and our job now is to figure out a way to keep our companies moving forward. What you do from this point may depend in part on your state, county, city, etc. Your personnel are in contact with the retail public, so I’m expecting that you are already 100% compliant with face masks and general sanitation. You should have been way on top of hand sanitation before any of this began. It’s going to be in your best interest to get anyone with public contact vaccinated ASAP. That’s where your state or local government comes in – they are setting priority levels for vaccine access. A healthy 32 year old ice truck driver isn’t high on the list compared to medical staff, older persons or those with existing complications. Hopefully, though, being in public contact will be a higher priority than an office worker who stays at home. There have been some casualties in our industry. We have heard from suppliers that some companies, with demand lowered by COVID closings, have closed their doors. It’s your responsibility to know who they are and work to find and serve their customer base. Increased sanitation awareness may even open some customer doors – a small business that used their own ice machine before may decide that using a freshly stocked merchandiser is safer. This spring, think of the outdoor recreation and bars that are going to be ramping up. There is a lot of pent-up demand in this country for normalcy. Whatever your version of normal is, this ain’t it. You see it already in reports of parties, of bars staying open despite orders. New Year’s Eve in this area didn’t have bar traffic, but events at private venues were very crowded. People want to get out, are ready to get out.

“Every day, though, the possibility of summer events grows. Like everything else about this disease, nobody can be sure when herd immunity will be achieved, when “normal” begins, when we can say it’s behind us. But it’s coming.”

I know persons who have already received the vaccine. It’s happening right now. The U.S. is already pushing a million doses a day (the net number inoculated may be lower because it needs a follow-up shot). That means that every day, a million more people feel confident to leave the house again, go to restaurants, go to movies, live a normal life.

Spring events are already announcing cancellations. Every day, though, the possibility of summer events grows. Like everything else about this disease, nobody can be sure when herd immunity will be achieved, when “normal” begins, when we can say it’s behind us. But it’s coming. So get ready, friends, for a surge in demand that above and beyond what used to be “normal.” People want to be with people, they want to be outdoors, they want to be carefree. Good times are what you sell. People want it, people need it, and soon they should be able to get it. Be ready when they come asking for it.


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Foodservice Benefits as

Consumer Spending at C-stores Strengthens Convenience store customers closed out 2020 by opening their wallets wider during the lead-up to year-end holidays. According to the latest biweekly report from PDI and NACS exploring how COVID-19 is affecting consumer behavior, foodservice, general merchandise and hot dispensed beverages benefited the most from increased spend per transaction compared to one year ago, as reported in NACS Daily. Despite this, dollar sales contracted, falling from +2.7 percent for the five weeks ended Nov. 29, 2020, to +1.9 percent for the five weeks ended Jan. 3, 2021. This is primarily because trips were -13.2 percent for the time period vs. -12 percent for the previous five weeks. Spend per transaction rose to +17.5 percent for the five weeks ended Jan. 3, compared with +16.8 percent for the previous five-week period. Basket spend during the pandemic has outpaced pre-pandemic spending as a result of consumers stocking up as well as prices in some categories increasing compared to last year.

increased +7.3 points and hot dispensed beverage saw a +0.3 point gain. However, foodservice and hot dispensed beverages remain in negative territory. Morning trips between 7 a.m. and 9:59 a.m. haven’t changed from their late November status at 85 percent of prioryear trips, but late evening trips (7 p.m. to 10:59 p.m.) fell 4.2 points compared to the five weeks ended Nov. 29, 2020. During the last two weeks of 2020, compared to the last two weeks of 2019, dollars were up +5.4 percent, boosted by lottery/gaming, store services, general merchandise and prepaid cards. Lottery/gaming became a bigger contributor to average spend for the two weeks ended Jan. 3, 2021.

“Basket spend during the pandemic has outpaced pre-pandemic spending as a result of consumers stocking up as well as prices in some categories increasing compared to last year.”

The report found that the New Year’s performance was stronger than Christmas, as store services again saw a significant increase at the start of the month but December trips were up +34 percent vs only +7.3 percent in the prior five weeks. RM

The report noted that it is an encouraging sign that the foodservice segment increased +2.9 points on a dollar basis due to a steady increase in trips, while general merchandise

REFRIGERATION Magazine │ January 2021 7


o Ma k e t e u q i n h c e T t T his A n c i e n t is r e s e D e h t n i e Ic

g n i l g g o B d n i M


aking ice in the desert? The irony is in the sentence itself, as most people can only fathom making ice by using their freezers, in a practical and modern manner. However, people had figured out how to make ice in the desert over a millennia ago. This practice requires an ingenious structure called a yakhchāl, and was used as far back as 400 BC. Believe it or not, it’s actually stated in the Bible that people could make ice in the desert at a time long before electricity and fridges. This practice seems baffling for modern society, but it was actually quite simple and practical – and most often used in Persia. The creation of yakhchāls (a Persian word – yakh meaning “ice” and chāl meaning “pit”), a structure which worked as a cooler, allowed the freezing of water to take place. Yakhchāls were large above ground structures built with heat-insulating materials which served as coolers during the hotter months of the year. The structure had a deep hole in the center of it, which lead to an

8 REFRIGERATION Magazine │ January 2021

underground storage space. Yakhchāls were often used to store ice which naturally formed during winter, as well as storing food. However, these structures were also able to freeze water – even in the desert. It’s all about physics. Once water is stored inside the yakhchāl, it’s able to freeze into ice because of the extremely low temperatures that the structure creates. The hole in the center allows cold air to enter and make its way all the way down to the subterranean bottom, where water is stored. The cone-like structure is also designed to make any hot air present inside the yakhchāl make its way out. The insulating materials used to build the structure – including sand, clay and even goat hair – ensure that the inside of the yakhchāl remains much cooler than the outside temperatures. These materials also make the structure impermeable. This brilliant invention is only one of the many ways in which ancient society handled the desert and made it a more inhabitable place to live long before modern technology. RM

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Success During Crisis

OUR INDUSTRY By Mike Landino

Wow! 2021 was a year to remember, and for so many reasons. The year we have all just endured as a nation and as residents of this place we call earth, goes well beyond what anyone alive today had ever thought possible. Covid-19 does not respect persons or boundaries. Millions have been affected. The pandemic of 1918 killed millions and happened without the benefit of today’s medical technology. Let us be thankful for modern science and our medical professionals.

As always, service can save the day. An iceman in one of our great Rocky Mountain States saw his sales increase over 35%. Hot, dry weather helped, but great customer service brought quite a bit of new business in.

But as always, we push on. For the ice man, as always, he delivers the ice. Some did well in this strange year that just passed; others did not. The following is the tale of a few of our comrades and the obstacles they faced in the season of 2020.


And lastly, the great state of Kansas saw the loss of State Fairs, and most other large gatherings, but outdoor parties help to increase this iceman’s sales 20%. Our prayers and best wishes go to all our readers. Stay safe, stay happy. Things will be better. Send a special thanks to all of those we know that face uncertainty each day they serve us as doctors, nurses, health professionals in all areas, and each first responder we know. They honor us with their service.

For an iceman in Texas, ice sales were down 25%. Though the owner stated it could have been worse, he was thankful for a variety of office building projects that he was able to supply ice to. At each site, OSHA required an ice merchandiser be placed and stocked with ice. His convenience stores had increased sales which helped anchor his lack of activity with the event caterers due to almost zero events. Restaurants and bars sales were way down as well. He looks forward, as we all do, to better days in 2021. A veteran iceman in the state of Oregon, had stated in early November that his sales on 7 lb. ice bags were up $200,000, and that he still had the rest of that month as well as December to go. Good service still reigns supreme. One Man in Pennsylvania was down 15% in sales. The lack of special events and lowers sales to the bars and restaurants being closed, attributed to the downturn in sales. Luckily, the convenience stores did well. Another Pennsylvania ice producer started off slow but then sales picked up. As folks began flocking to the campgrounds and the backyard barbeques increased, so did sales. One facet of our industry which affected those in the industry, were the lack of sales of 300 lb blocks. With a visible absence in special events, conventions, weddings, large parties, along with the ghost town atmosphere that overtook our large hotels, the need for ice carvers as well as the 300 lb. blocks they carve, came to a halt. REFRIGERATION Magazine │ January 2021 11



#SOCIAL MEDIA into a social media “persona,” simply by donning sunglasses and one of his store’s hats backwards, and boasting out his name, “It’s your boy, Anthony Perrine…” and doing a “schtick like the ShamWow guy,” he relayed.


wo family-run convenience retail businesses — one a single-store operator, the other a chain — have social media success commonalities that they learned through trial and error. Anthony Perrine, president of single-store Lou Perrine’s Gas and Groceries, which has been in business for 60-plus years in Kenosha, Wis., and Ariel Rubin, director of communications for Des Moines, Iowa-based Kum & Go LC, with 400 stores in 11 states, shared their different-in-details, but similarin-theory social media stories during the recent NACS Crack the Code Experience. Perrine said it took him about three years to get well-known in Kenosha on social media, trying out all the different platforms (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) and many different scenarios. What first stuck with his audience was when he transformed himself 12 REFRIGERATION Magazine │ January 2021

Then, two years ago, fate intervened. A thief, determined by Perrine not to be an employee or customer of the store, robbed the hotel next door to Lou Perrine’s and was caught on camera wearing one of the store’s hoodies, where it was written on the back: I (Heart) HO HO CAKE. Local news anchors started making a joke on the air, “What’s a Ho Ho Cake?” So, Perrine took to Twitter to explain. Mama P’s Ho Ho Cake was created by Perrine mother for his eighth birthday; it’s a chocolate cake with a white cream middle layer, topped with fudge frosting. It’s become an icon of the store. Working with local authorities, Perrine offered a “sweet reward” for whoever could turn the bandit in — free Ho Ho Cake for a year. The story went viral, “and the rest is history,” he recalled. “That’s how we came to social media fame in southeast Wisconsin.” The way Perrine sees it, social media is just telling a story and, unlike other forms of media, you get to interact with your customer while doing it. “It’s not about being super creative, it’s about reusing what’s out there,” he said. “Everything we do has to fit what we’re doing and what we’re about. It’s also about being culturally relevant and edgy, being fun and informative.

It’s a constant bombardment on social media to stay on top of their mind. We try to create ourselves as a unique destination of a place.” Case in point: For the store’s 64th birthday, Perrine dreamed up an idea with his friend who owns a tattoo shop. For the first 50 people who got a tattoo of a Ho Ho Cake or the store’s logo, Perrine’s would pay for the tattoo and give the tattooed customer a free Ho Ho Cake every time they came into the store. “I thought it would be a bust. I thought people would say I’m silly,” said Perrine. But on 5 a.m. the Monday of the promotion, he received a call from his tattoo-parlor friend who told him, “You’ve got to get here, cars are lined up everywhere.” Because 150 people showed up, Perrine extended the promotion to the first 100 people. “I’m a big brand guy and I consider this a success because you don’t see a lot of people with Sam’s Club logos tattooed on them or Kwik Trip,” he said. Moving forward, Perrine said he’s vowed to “run everything through my wife and manager first.” He also came to realize that ideas like World Orgasm Day play well on Instagram and Twitter because of their younger-generation audience. “Facebook is an older generation who didn’t appreciate it,” he said.

WHERE THE CONVERSATION IS HAPPENING At Kum & Go, social media is now “where the conversation is happening,” according to Rubin. “It’s a fascinating space to really engage with customers,” he said. “You can put anything on there and find out immediately what’s working and what’s not.” Until recently, Kum & Go didn’t have a real voice on social media; the retailer merely used the platforms for marketing and advertising. But in 2019, Rubin said they went in a different direction, using A/B testing and then in 2020, they “ran with it,” partly in the form of merchandise giveaways. “I can’t express enough how merch takes the online experience offline and lets people own a piece of what you do,” he said, noting that these giveaways are in the form of low-cost backpacks, fanny packs, sunglasses and visors. “You get people to advertise your business for free.” The company also decided to use social media as a way to “stand up” in a difficult year. “Culture is happening every day and we want to put Kum & Go at the center of cultural moments,” said Rubin. “It’s the job of a good social media professional or team to insert your brand into that conversation.” The numbers don’t lie — Kum & Go went from 19,000 followers on Twitter a year ago to more than 42,000 today, and from zero followers on TikTok to 66,000 followers currently. Rubin offered up 10 tips for fellow retailers looking to truly expand their social media conversation:

Use influencers to build long-term partnerships. Influencer collaboration can work if it is a well-matched influencer to your brand. You also must consider the platform being used. Consider celebrity engagement, especially celebrities near your brand. “We send our swag to famous people strategically — those who we like and who like us. We send T-shirts; they tweet about it or use our name in a podcast. They are a friend of the brand. It’s all free and it builds goodwill.” Make the merch work. Kum & Go’s philosophy is “make cool merch, win cool customers.” Giveaways inspire social media conversations and build loyalty. Kum & Go recently gave away a needlepoint with the inscription: “Tis better to have kum and gone than never to kum and go at all.” Test new and emerging platforms like TikTok. To capture and connect with 16- to 22 year-olds, Kum & Go hired a 19-year-old Gen Z specialist to manage platforms like TikTok. Tweet to the next level. Kum & Go uses humor and storytelling on Twitter to win over both new associates and new customers. Go offline. It’s not all about online conversations. Kum & Go brings the same “digital hype and energy” to its store openings, with 100 fanny packs typically given out by 7 a.m. Kids camp out for the openings. Stand for something. “We use our social platform and privilege to amplify marginalized voices, be loud allies,

and support causes that matter to us,” said Rubin. “When we have something important to say, we find a fun way to say it. People really engage with this stuff.” Recently, Kum & Go posted: “we don’t mind if you want to laugh at our name. We get it; but one thing we won’t tolerate on our platform is language which will get you blocked. Immediately.” Engage in a deeper way. Kum & Go believes that if you help people get through something important to them, they will become a fan for life. And so, the retailer believes in deepening its relationship with its audience. According to Rubin, “not only are we communicating with our audience, we are also listening, incorporating their ideas into fun campaigns and giveaways.” Promote chain wide and local happenings. Kum & Go utilizes social media to promote its business as it evolves offerings and operations, such as curbside delivery or gas-pumping service. Make mistakes. This is the only way you’re going to find out what’s working and what isn’t. Try things. They won’t always work, but this is how you find your voice and ultimately build your audience. “You have to be willing to screw up. Trust your social media people. Let them make mistakes. The failures are just as informative as the wins — maybe even more so.” The NACS Crack the Code Experience was a five-week digital event that brought together convenience store industry retailers and suppliers virtually in lieu of an in-person NACS Show this year. It ran from early November to early December. RM

"Social m edia is ju st telling and, unlik a store e other fo r m s of media get to inte , you ract with y our custo while doin m ers g it."

REFRIGERATION Magazine │ December 2020 13


Despite Pandemic, Nearly Six in 10 C-store Retailers Say In-Store Sales Grew in 2020 Convenience stores saw fuel sales and commuter traffic dip during the COVID-19 pandemic; however, a majority of retailers did see in-store sales grow. According to the latest NACS Retailer Member Pulse Survey, 59 percent of U.S. c-store owners reported an in-store sales increase, compared to 30 percent who reported a decrease.

focused more on cleaning/toiletry items and 34 percent focused more on grocery items. Retailers also mixed it up in the cold vault as local restrictions limited on-premise alcohol consumption at bars and restaurants. Overall, 39 percent of stores put more emphasis on the alcoholic beverage category, with 58 percent adding new items.

beverages and 42 percent saw shortages of packaged beverages, NACS said. “We exist in a small community, where the nearest gas and grocery

Facing changes driven by the health crisis, c-store operators adjusted their product mix and focused more on take-home meals and grab-andgo meal solutions. Specifically, 49 percent put more emphasis on prepackaged ready-to-eat meals, 41 percent focused more on prepared foodservice meals, and 24 percent focused more on ready-to-heat take-home meals. Sales figures from the NACS CSX database confirm this postpandemic sales trend. From April through November 2020, readyto-eat and ready-to-eat meal options both saw double-digit increases compared to the same period in 2019. December data is not yet finalized, according to the association. In addition to tweaks in its foodservice offerings, c-store retailers added or extended their offer around more in-demand products. Through its survey, NACS found that 39 percent of retailers

14 REFRIGERATION Magazine │ January 2021

New offers side, the channel did face some challenges. More than two in three respondents said it was difficult to find qualified candidates for jobs, 69 percent say that cleaning items/ toiletries were in short supply, and 59 percent say that the coin circulation challenges experienced this summer affected their stores. In addition, 48 percent said they experienced shortages of alcoholic

is over 35 miles away. During the pandemic we were able to stay open and (mostly) stocked, and our community was infinitely appreciative of that,” said Damon Goodmanson at Arivaca, Ariz.-based II Sonz LLC.


According to NACS, retailers plan to keep some changes they implemented in the past year. For example, 58 percent say they will emphasize

prepared foodservice meals, 51 percent will focus more on prepared ready-to-eat meals like salads and sandwiches, and 30 percent will focus more on ready-to-heat meals. Similarly, retailers will continue to expand convenient order and payment options: –3 8 percent will expand their app-

based ordering and payments;

– 32 percent will expand mobile ordering for in-store pickup; and – 14 percent will offer more ordering options at the pump for in-store pick-up. However, survey respondents are heading into 2021 with some concerns. The survey found that 41 percent of retailers are more pessimistic about shopper foot traffic for the first quarter, compared to 24 percent who are optimistic.

That being said, retailers are increasingly optimistic about sales in each ensuing quarter. By Q4, retailers say they are more optimistic (67 percent) than pessimistic (6 percent) about how business will be performing, likely due to an expectation that larger portion of Americans will have received a COVID-19 vaccination by end of year. In addition to sales, retailers say they will continue or expand their community giving in 2021. Overall, two-thirds said they will have programs to support local schools, 48 percent will support local first responders, 32 percent will focus on wellness programs for the community, and 27 percent will support hunger relief programs. Most of all, retailers expect that the feeling of community and the teamwork in stores to continue to resonate in 2021, NACS added.

“With the shutdown of restaurants and entertainment, people still need to see familiar faces and be able to have some normalcy to their daily lives. Many of our customers continue to come in for that cup of coffee and to be greeted by our employees that they see every day on their way to work. We have received many words of thankfulness for our support of our communities,” said Randy Fuller at Jasper, Texas-based Bill L. Dover Co. Inc., which operates 16 Jiffy Markets. Retailers also recognized the efforts of workers at other stores. In April and May, it was common to see retailers rewarding healthcare workers with special offers in recognition of their important work. RM The NACS Retailer Member Pulse Survey was conducted in December by NACS Research. A total of 71 member companies, representing a cumulative 1,717 stores, participated in the survey.

REFRIGERATION Magazine │ January 2021 15


800 Bottle Tesla Innovation, creativity and sustainability abound when it comes to the futurist design of an electric vehicle made from plastic bottles and recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET). Designed and executed by artist Anne Marie D’Agostino, a Tesla electric Cybertruck was built for National Drive Electric Week (Sept. 26) using 800 used water bottles from CarbonLITE Recycling and plastic sheeting from the company’s PinnPack subsidiary. “Sustainability has been part of CarbonLITE’s mission from the start, and we are happy to participate in National Drive Electric Week, which has similar goals,” said CarbonLITE Chief Executive Officer Leon Farahnik, in a statement. “We take recycling seriously, but sometimes a little levity and creativity, especially these days, makes sense.” A time-lapsed video of the truck’s production at CarbonLITE’s Riverside, Calif.-based plant also is available. RM

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REFRIGERATION Magazine │ January 2021 17

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