Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ice Jobs Heat Up in Summertime Changing Lifestyles Are Keeping Ice Makers Busy

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ice Jobs Heat Up in Summertime Changing Lifestyles Are Keeping Ice Makers Busy

Article excerpt

With the introduction of modern home refrigerators during the 1930s and 1940s, the old-fashioned icebox was soon sent to the garage. But today the ice-making business is going strong and growing stronger.

"The ice business just keeps getting bigger," said Roy Twillmann, president of Consolidated Ice Co. of Fairmont City. He and his brother, Dale, opened their company in 1978.

The success of bagged ice is due in large part to changing lifestyles.

"Today there are a lot of people who will buy ice year-round instead of freezing the water in their refrigerator," Roy Twillmann said.

"People were more conservative 25 or 30 years ago," Twillman said. "You remember when you were a kid and before you would go out picnicking, your mother would stick a couple of buckets of water in the freezer. No one does that anymore. Most figure a $1 or $1.20 bag of ice is not that expensive - they will buy it."

Needless to say, the ice business is seasonal.

"It's a good business to be in, but it's just so demanding in a short time," Roy Twillmann said. "Like the Fourth of July, you just can't make enough and get around to your customers."

In the winter the Twillmanns have seven full-time employees, while in the summer they have 15 or more full- and part-time workers.

"The ice season generally starts around Memorial Day and runs through Labor Day," said Michael R. Borden, director of the Packaged Ice Association in Raleigh, N.C. "In the Sunbelt, the season runs from Easter to Halloween."

Borden's trade group represents 2,500 ice plants in the United States that produce an estimated 250,000 tons of ice a day.

Borden said about 70 percent of the ice is used for commercial cooling of fruits, vegetables, seafood and other industrial purposes. Only about 30 percent is for human consumption.

Not surprisingly, Borden said, "The largest number of ice plants are in the Deep South, from Kentucky to Florida to Mississippi." The second-largest concentration of plants is in the Southwest and Texas.

Halloween is also a big time for one St. Louis firm - for dry ice, that is, said David Hendricks of Sno Cap Sales Inc. in Valley Park.

"It's nuts around here at Halloween for the dry ice," Hendricks said. "We have a man cutting dry ice eight hours a day during Halloween."

The dry ice is for both private customers and commercial haunted houses that want to have the fog-like effects of melting dry ice, Hendricks said.

"We also sell dry ice to hospitals for shipping organs, and the second major industrial use is by metal fabricators for reducing pipe fittings," Hendricks said.

Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide with a temperature of minus 109.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Dry ice changes from a solid directly to a gas without first becoming a liquid.

"A 5-pound piece of dry ice will last for about five hours; whereas a 5-pound cube (of regular ice) left in the open will last about an hour or so," Hendricks said. …

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