44 Years in Business
A Fleet of 55 Trucks
Those numbers are both impressive and staggering! But, then again, if you knew the family and the company behind them – Ice Cream Wagon in Commerce City, CO – their determination, business acumen and adaptability, you wouldn’t be surprised.
“Not just buying ice cream, creating a memory” is the slogan on Ice Cream Wagon’s website. The original owners from Italy – Joe and Vince – along with their sons, Johnny, Fausto, and Antonio and son-in-law, Paul have created memories for not only their families, drivers, staff, and vendors, but also their hundreds of customers.
Johnny shared with me the first memory of his father, his uncles and grandpa coming to America from Italy in the ‘50’s when they started a mobile vending business. Long story short, some relatives moved back to Italy, while others returned, like Joe and Vince who founded the company in 1978.
“They built custom-made carts and when we were all young, we pushed them. Then, when we were old enough, we drove the ice cream trucks. There was a running joke in our family back then about child labor laws.”
The memories continue with what has helped the company survive and thrive throughout the years. Johnny states, “We are consistent in our hard work. We put our nose to the grindstone for a solid six months +. We are there day in, day out to keep the company moving forward. Nothing happens without this ingredient.” Sound business advice, Johnny.
Recent memories of COVID were shared. According to Johnny, “COVID was interesting for us. We followed all of the COVID guidelines and didn’t skip a beat. We did lose some drivers however, luckily. we received an influx of students, especially out-of-work musicians. We managed to build a crew of aspiring musicians. That never happened before.”
But by far, THE all-time best memories are of the kids. Johnny shared, “Kids call the office and send us letters and ask ‘When will your truck be on my street?’ When we get requests like that, it’s awesome. Our drivers come back to our office and share the kids’ comments about the joy they bring to their neighborhoods.”
Big kids have fond memories too, like the Denver Broncos who enjoyed a refreshing treat during their football camp and the Delta Airlines’ and Lockheed Martin’s employees, just to name a few of their corporate accounts.
The company sells a selection of frozen treats from Good Humor, Klondike, Popsicle, Rosati Ice, and Rich’s Ice Cream. Johnny states, “Our menu hovers around 15 items or so. We have found this to be an effective number giving the customers plenty to choose from.”
Another fond memory is meeting Rich Trotter, President, Rosati Ice, at the annual convention. When they first started carrying Rosati Italian Ice, “we just put it on our trucks. We didn’t have any massive campaign. Our trucks are our campaign,” declares Johnny.
Ice Cream Wagon’s trucks carry Rosati’s dairy-free, nut-free, Italian Ice in 10-ounce cups in lemon lime and 6-ounce Crybaby cherry and “they fly off the trucks. Over the years, we have tried different flavors, but these are the best ones for our market. We really do like the Rosati Italian Ice product and we, as well as our customers, would hate to see our menu without it.” You got that right, Johnny!
There are memories in the chorus music too that is played on their trucks. Customers recognize their trucks by the tune – “Red Wing.” Over the years, they have received so many questions about the jingle that its history is posted on their web site. It’s an intriguing story and worth checking out.
The families and teams at 110-year-old Rosati Ice and 44-year-old Ice Cream Wagon will certainly create more memories and undoubtedly adapt to more challenges. Chime on!
Ice Cream Wagon
6801 Colorado Blvd.
Commerce City, CO 80022