CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: MOUNT EVERETTS FROZEN CREATIONS- CBD INFUSED ITALIAN ICE
Troy Everetts, Wilkes University graduate ’17, went on a trip to Colorado during the winter in 2015, expecting to take in the scenery and spend time with his aunt. He did not expect to leave with the impending inspiration to develop a business.
The idea behind Mt. Everetts Frozen Creations all started when Troy took his Colorado trip.
“We went to one of the marijuana dispensaries and I was fascinated by it and did not see any frozen products there containing CBD oil,” said Troy Everetts.
His father, Al Everetts, has worked in the Italian ice industry for 25 years and owns Josie’s Italian ice in Kingston, Pa., sparking Troy’s observation of the lack of frozen edibles. When Troy returned from Colorado, he immediately went to his father and insisted that they dip their hands into the world of frozen, edible CBD oil infused products.
This inspiration, combined with his participation in his Entrepreneurship senior capstone class at Wilkes in 2017, his father’s experience in the Italian ice industry, and mentorship from the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, resulted in the Everetts’ innovative business plan.
CBD oil or cannabidiol is hemp derived. It is directly extracted from the cannabis plant, but it does not contain the psychoactive component, THC, found in marijuana. CBD has also been shown to help patients who suffer from anxiety, epilepsy, PTSD and inflammation. The opportunity to bring these healing properties to customers was part of the impetus for starting the business.
“It’s about the money too. Money is an added thing, but we have a product that will help people and that outweighs the money,” said Troy Everetts.
Due to his experience, Al knew how to create the formulation of Italian ice, how to get it to retain the consistency and even how to make and mix colors among several other aspects. It just became a matter of infusing the CBD oil into the Italian ice.
In order to learn how to properly execute the process of infusing oil into water, the Everetts wanted to consult experts in the industry. Troy reached out to Dixie Elixirs, a company that specializes in THC-infused edibles. At the time, the company explained that they were not looking for new ideas, but Troy followed up anyway.
Troy explained in an email to Dixie Elixirs that he was a college student looking to infuse CBD oil into Italian ice. Dixie Elixirs ended up responding and even set up a meeting with the Everetts in Colorado.
The Everetts had 45 minutes to pitch their idea to the company. They brought samples of the famous Josie’s Italian and Dixie Elixirs loved it, but told them that they did not think they would be able to infuse the oil into the ice since it was never done before. They said to try it out and then call them back.
The Everetts went back to Wilkes-Barre and got to work.
“We put all of our tools together in the back room of Josie’s in the kitchen,” said Al.
With Al’s chemical knowledge, they obtained their trade secret by successfully infusing the CBD oil into the Italian ice and began their journey.
The Everetts started taking the next steps to kickstart this project immediately. They sent out their samples for labs to test and continued educating themselves about CBD and any regulations and laws related to it. Troy even presented the idea to Jerry Ephault, executive in residence at the Allan P. Kirby Center who was also the professor for his senior Entrepreneurship capstone class at Wilkes University and Rodney Ridley, the director of the Center.
“They actually opened up to the idea pretty well. At the time, no one really knew about CBD…It was still a gray area,” said Troy Everetts.
Ephault explained that they knew CBD was not illegal, but they were still unaware of many of its applications. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently does not have any rules or regulations on CBD yet, however, that has not stopped the Everetts from taking precautionary measures.
Ephault, Ridley, the Kirby Scholars and other Kirby Center staff, have also helped the Everetts continue to grow.
“It went from a purely academic relationship to an actual, functional business development,” said Ephault.
Ethan Schwartz and Spencer Yakuboski, Kirby Scholars of Engineering at the Kirby Center, worked with the Everetts and Enterprise Systems Partners, Inc. (espi), a management consulting agency, to start building the Everetts’ new facility in Hanover, PA. When finished, it will allow them to start mass producing and shipping their product.
“This included assisting in the construction of an ‘AS IS,’ or how the building currently looks, an equipment matrix, which was a spreadsheet that included the fixtures as well as any moveable equipment within the facility, and the ‘TO BE’ which represented how the Everetts envisioned their dream building,” said Schwartz.
They assisted the engineers in drawing on AutoCAD, a computer-aided design and drafting software application, taking measurements in the building, curating the overall design and even did some of the actual manufacturing work.
“We went through the whole process of how you go from a blank canvas to a manufacturing facility,” said Yacuboski.
This was the first time that both scholars got to work with an engineering firm on a project. Therefore, it took some time for Schwartz and Yacuboski to get used to using AutoCAD the way that engineers do. Once they finished the drawings, it took about three weeks for them to get the desired formatting.
When asked about their favorite part of working on this project, Schwartz and Yakuboski both said that it was the final meeting between the Kirby Center, the espi consultants, and the Everetts. During this meeting they went over the final design packets created by the lead consultant on this project. Within Design/Drawing Packet were the drawings that Schwartz and Yacuboski made. Schwartz said they each had put nearly 100 hours into creating them.
“It was just cool to see it all come together. The final document that we got was this full, bound (packet). I’m not a construction guy, so the final product isn’t the building for me, it’s the submittal,” said Yacuboski.
Now construction and redesign is in full throttle and the building in Hanover is set to be ready in the fall of 2019.
While the manufacturing facility was being redesigned, the Everetts were also working on the packaging and branding for their product. They added a wrapped spoon underneath the lid and made the lid childproof even though no regulations exist requiring it to remain compliant. They also decided to include a brightly-colored paper wrapping with their logo around the product container to reflect the flavor on the inside.
“The packaging took me through hell and back,” said Al Everetts.
With the product solidified, the facility underway, and the packaging and branding in place, the Everetts’ are equipped to be leaders in the industry of frozen edibles. Eventually, the Everetts hope to co-pack with other companies and plan to market to several other states and countries. They have had offers from or been contacted by companies in New York, Arizona, Alaska, California, Florida and Germany among others.
“The journey is the most important part of where you’re going,” said Al Everetts.