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Chipping in for a good cause
Dan Cantey gives back with shaved-ice truck
Kona Ice
Dan Cantey, former owner of Cantey Construction (far left), hands a cup of shaved ice to a young customer from inside his Kona Ice truck. Cantey said that when he retired, he decided to find a fun way to make some money for himself and give back to the community. A portion of his Kona Ice proceeds are given to schools or other organizations. Cantey said he has given away a little more than $2,220 since starting up in April. - photo by Michael Ulmer

Local businessman Dan Cantey is aiming to give back to his community in more ways than one this summer. His new venture -- a mobile shaved-ice shop -- has not only provided an escape from triple-digit heat waves, but has helped to supply a boost to local non-profit organizations.

Through the ownership of his franchise, Kona Ice, Cantey donates a portion of his profits to lend a hand to a variety of groups in the area, an idea promoted nationally by the company since its inception in 2007.         

“For fundraising events, we give a percentage of the proceeds back to the school or organization that we’re working with,” Cantey said. “As of right now, I’ve given back a little bit over $2,200 to the community since I started up. I’ve done a lot of vacation Bible schools, weekly daycare stops, school PTO (parent-teacher organization) meetings, local carnivals, award days, a few corporate events, things like that.” 

Cantey began working with Kona Ice in April after deciding to end his more than two-decade career in construction.

“For 22 years I owned Cantey Construction in Camden, building roads and doing commercial construction. Back in January, I decided that I was going to do something different. I started looking around trying to figure out what I was going to do with the next phase of my life.”  

He said after researching various career opportunities, he ultimately settled on starting up a Kona Ice shop after attending the company’s franchise convention in Cincinnati.

“I went up there and met with a bunch of the franchisees and learned what they were about and just explored how they were operating and what exactly they did,” he said. “After meeting with everyone, I just decided this was what I was going to do. I knew it was a seasonal business and that it really looked like fun.”

He felt that one of the most appealing aspects of Kona Ice was that customers can customize the various flavors on their cone through a self-serve machine located on the outside of the truck.   

“I think it attracts people because they can put on their own flavors and can mix and match whatever they want and then I’ve also got flavors inside the truck too that I can do out of a bottle,” he said. “You can do root beer, root beer float, banana daiquiri, strawberry daiquiri, watermelon daiquiri, among a lot of others. There are probably about 60 different combinations you can create.”

Cantey hopes to keep the mobile shop open from March to October each year. He explained that so far the whole experience has been very rewarding.

“Things have been really been great … everything from the calypso music that plays in the truck to all the flavors we have to all the smiling faces of the kids,” he said. “The construction business was very good to me. I enjoyed it, but it was just time to do something different. This is really a lot of fun. Everybody shows up happy and leaves happy.”