Student-run snow cone truck cools campusBy Emma Cary | 10/02/2017 10:23am
By Emma Cary | Contributing Writer
Ben Gitter walked through the Quad on his way back home from the engineering campus and the southern state's spring weather brought forth a blazing sun. Sweat formed on his forehead and the weight of his backpack felt like a thousand pounds.
He had one thought: “Man, I really wish I had a snow cone right now.”
What started as a wish on a hot Tuesday turned into SnoCo, a thriving student-owned snow cone business.
Gitter, a junior majoring in computer science, created SnoCo, a bright-blue trailer that parks on campus and sells cold treats to grateful students.
“What I love about it is that on a hot day, it makes people really happy," Gitter said. "People are genuinely happy when they get a snow cone. That’s what we want.” .
While Gitter may have been the brains of starting the company, he said he could not have made the idea come to life without the help of his team. The core group consists of Gitter, Dylan Marcrum, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering and Lee Watterson, a student from Auburn.
“The company and the trailer literally would not exist without Dylan or Lee." Gitter said. "These guys are the mechanical engineers, the masterminds that made the trailer.”
Gitter called Watterson only five minutes after the thought of a snow cone on campus popped into his head. A few weeks later the two discussed the idea with Marcrum, who turned what was on paper into reality.
“I had the idea, but I couldn’t fabricate it on my own," Gitter said. "Lee is a good businessman, and he helped weld the trailer together. Dylan is the master of fabrication. You dream it up, and he can make it.”
The University allowed SnoCo to team up with Bama Dining. The trailer takes any form of cash or card, as well as Bama Cash and Dining Dollars. SnoCo has different location permits across campus and moves around regularly.
Marcrum said that his favorite place for the trailer to be is Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library.
“The Quad is the heart of campus," Marcrum said. "It reaches the most people. It has all different types of majors, engineering students, business students, everyone. That’s why we like to be close to the library.”
SnoCo has only been in business for around four weeks, but so far, students' reactions have been positive. Gitter and Marcrum agreed that they think being owned by students for students really helps.
Mckensie Macgrath, a freshman majoring in chemistry, enjoyed her first experience with SnoCo on Friday.
“The employees were so nice," Macgrath said. "The girl working told me to tell her how the snow cone is. She wanted to make sure that I liked it first.”
A big goal for SnoCo is that customers enjoy their experience and that people want to come back.
“We tell our employees not to sacrifice customer service for anything," Gitter said. "We want to make them happy. If a customer does not like the flavor they chose, we’ll dump it and get them a new one. We want it to be a fun thing.”
Gitter smiled when he thought back to the day he wished he had a snow cone to cool him off.
“That day is so special to me," Gitter said. "I had the drive necessary, Dylan had the drive necessary and Lee had the drive necessary. Once we had the idea, we knew we needed a team to make it happen. I have learned that who you surround yourself with is so important.”