Passionate Motivator, Philanthropist & Ice Cream Franchisee
Shaftsburg, Michigan, native Cliff Farr is the owner, motivator and enthusiast behind Kona Ice of East Lansing. Nationwide, the overarching Kona Ice brand has given back millions of dollars to charities and nonprofits in need. Only in his sophomore year as a Kona Ice franchisee, Farr set out to do the same for the East Lansing community. On his mission to make people happy, Farr sat down to tell us some of the ways Kona Ice has helped him to fulfill his goal.
How did you become involved with Kona Ice?
Previous to my venture with Kona Ice, I worked for the Michigan Department of Transportation in engineering. I came on board there in 1975 after receiving two Bachelor of Science degrees from the Detroit Institute of Technology and Michigan State University. My career at MDOT was absolutely fantastic. I was very happy with the work I was doing, but I also had a longtime interest in becoming an entrepreneur. I knew if I waited to retire at age 86, that window of opportunity might be somewhat limited or nonexistent. So, I retired. Three months later I was driving home my Kona Ice truck.
What is your favorite part about being a Kona Ice franchisee?
Oh, it’s just the coolest thing. By the time I started looking into the Kona Ice franchise, it was 10 years old and had already donated over $50 million back to charities across the country. I was beyond sold on the concept. I always said that if I ever became a part of a franchise it has to be a winner, and boy, this one is a winner. Kona Ice Corporate is positive in every aspect of their business, and not only positive, but successful. If there really is such a thing as a corporate family, I believe I found it with Kona Ice.
What drove your motivation to work with charities and nonprofits?
I believe that we were put on this Earth to make people happy, and that is my passion. Kona Ice so perfectly helps me to fulfill this; not only through the community giveback portion, but through the reactions I receive from the truck. There is nothing better than pulling up to an event and seeing 20 little kids jumping up and down out of pure bliss because they get to eat shaved ice. It’s just so cute. Those are the kinds of moments that fill your heart, and it can’t get much better than that.
Can you tell me about Kona Ice of East Lansing’s impact on the community?
I don’t know exactly how much revenue has been given back to the community, but I imagine that number is significant. I am strictly event based. I work all of the Lansing Lugnuts games and Lansing Ignite games, on top of various birthday parties and school fundraisers – you name it. There’s potential I can give back $500 or more within three hours just by sitting there. Kona Ice truly is the easiest fundraiser out there. All you have to do is tell me where to park and who to make the check out to.