Revolutionizing Ice Cream: The SubZero Journey with Jerry Hancock

How do you revolutionize the ice cream industry and introduce a one-of-a-kind experience to the US market?

In this episode, we explore the journey of Jerry Hancock, the co-founder, and CEO of SubZero Ice Cream, as he introduces a unique ice cream experience to the US market. Jerry shares the inspiration behind SubZero Ice Cream, which utilizes liquid nitrogen to craft customized flavors and textures, revolutionizing traditional ice cream production.

Despite facing challenges such as setbacks with suppliers and regulations, Jerry navigates through by embracing new opportunities for growth and adaptation.

Throughout his journey, Jerry emphasizes the importance of community and mentorship. He shares how surrounding oneself with a supportive community and openly sharing dreams can pave the way for success. 

Mentors that Inspired Jerry:

  • Theodore Gray – Introduced him to liquid nitrogen ice cream concept

  • Norman Vincent Peale – Book “The Power of Positive Thinking”

  • Gino Wickman – Book “Traction” on having shared goals

 

LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE HERE

Transcript

Intro  

Welcome to another edition of inspired stories where leaders share their experiences so we can learn from their successes, how they’ve overcome adversity, and explore current challenges they’re facing.

Anthony: (17:58.558)
Welcome to another edition of the Inspired Stories podcast, where leaders share their experiences so we can learn from their successes, how they’ve overcome adversity, and explore current challenges they’re facing. My name is Anthony Codispoti, and today’s guest is Jerry Hancock, co-founder and CEO of SubZero Ice Cream, which is a special kind of ice cream shop where they use Jerry’s own patented process of applying liquid nitrogen.

to fresh ingredients right in front of the customer to create the freshest ice cream with completely customized flavors and textures. They can make it sugar-free, vegan, and even keto-friendly. They’ve been written about in Forbes Magazine, Popular Science, and USA Today, and even covered on Shark Tank. After launching in 2004, they have over 25 locations, many of them franchises.

Not resting on their laurels, they continue to innovate as they are working on a new patent for high traffic environments. Before we get into the good stuff, today’s episode is brought to you by my company, Add Back Benefits Agency, where we offer very specific and unique employee benefits that are both great for your team and fiscally optimized for your bottom line. One recent client was able to save over $900 per employee per year by implementing one of our proprietary programs.

Another client is going to save over $1,200 per employee per year by implementing a patented construct that we offer. Results vary for each company and some organizations may not be eligible. To find out if your company qualifies, contact us today at addb Now, back to our guest today, the CEO and co-founder of SubZero Ice Cream, Jerry. Thanks for making the time to share your story today.

Jerry: (19:44.028)
Yeah, you bet.

Anthony: (19:45.398)
So tell us in your own words, what does SubZero ice cream do that’s different? And how did you first get started with it?

Jerry: (19:54.314)
Well, first thing I’m going to preface with, I think everybody has different experiences. So I usually try and start talking about how we came up with it. It really became a product of the uniqueness of me as a person or my wife as a person. Now, what I mean by that is my background is, you know, I used to sell things in college, I mean college and high school.

just to try and make money. But I worked on ejection seats for F-16s, so I’ve had some mechanical ability. I developed a product that I got a patent on in college and we went to market with it. But I chose to finish school instead of running that business. So we had some product development experience and then I worked with…

Did a year of industrial design before, while also doing chemistry. So I finished in chemistry with a chemistry degree. And then I went to work in software and then got laid off in the 2000s, which led me into buying a food franchise. So now all those experiences we had this and the food franchise was kind of a burrito shop, but it was kind of make everything as you go down the line like a subway, but it had a lot of different variety like Thai

barbecue and it wasn’t really like Mexican. So the idea of making it with that subway mentality of like you pick your bread and then go down the line is where my mind was. So then we had extra space and we said, what are we gonna do with this space? And so we went to the customer, this is where all good product development comes from, is asking the customer what they like about.

or what their problems are and how do you solve it. But really you can create a problem by saying, what do you like about other people’s product and how would you make it better? And so it all came down to one thing and it was customization. So customization is only so, you can only customize ice cream so far before without changing the flavor. And you can’t change the flavor in a solid state, you have to change it in a liquid state. So the…

Anthony: (22:16.586)
Now hang on, let me jump in Jerry. What made you choose ice cream specifically?

Jerry: (22:22.382)
Specifically, I asked the customers, what do you guys want brought in as an extra product? Everybody said ice cream. So I went to the ice cream manufacturer. I did leave out one thing. So we went to the ice cream manufacturer. I said, what do you, will you help us build an ice cream shop? And they said, yeah, we’ll help you build an ice cream shop. We don’t recommend it. They said, if you’re already in a struggling location where you’re not making it on your original product.

Anthony: (22:25.686)
Got it. OK. All right.

Jerry: (22:46.274)
then don’t do ice cream unless it’s different. They said, they give one caveat, unless it’s different. So it’s, they said people just pass by you. So then I had to like, all right, what’s different? And so I was originally looking at squares, scoops that would make square shapes. I mean, that’s how different I was thinking. But I went to the customer and started asking more questions.

So I wasn’t going very unique at first. But then I asked people, how do you make it better than this 2004? So the top dog would have been Coldstone, I think, is who we’re targeting, because I felt like they were somewhat innovative for the time. So it was always customization. They thought it was…

I said, what do you like about their product? And it was, there was two things, which I think is interesting, because you always have to dig deeper from people’s comments. I gave two comments and it was, well, it’s really good ice cream, which to me doesn’t mean anything. And then, I don’t know why. So then, or it’s entertaining. And they said, and then I saw, I did the follow-up, like, why is it really good ice cream? Well, they take a brownie and they mush it into the ice cream. Okay.

Why is it entertaining? Well, they take this brownie and they mush it into my ice cream. So that’s really one thing, it’s customization. But all you can do is add a mix in. So you have 12 flavors in Cold Stone and then you can only add a mix in. But that’s the only thing you really change. So my goal was like, well, what if we change the flavor and people could change or make any flavor they wanted? And then we started with just a premium ice cream mix,

but the vendor we had also made a custard, a yogurt, you know, and low fat. So we actually were able to start with all of these different mixes. So now you can make any flavor with all of those mixes. But anyway, that’s just one of the problems I mentioned. You know, we took about…

Jerry: (25:03.818)
really about six, seven years to really figure out all of the different aspects of the business. Because one thing that happened is that once you figured out one thing, then you had to figure out another problem, another problem arose.

Anthony: (25:14.626)
So how did you get to the point of the liquid nitrogen innovation?

Jerry: (25:18.574)
Oh, well, I was looking around at machines to see if there was a machine I could buy. And, um, and I was, I was saying I went to Taylor freeze and they were doing a repair on a heart transplant machine. So this is before the cold plate, you know, product that was out there, you know, became semi-popular and kind of goes through its wave every about five years. But they, um,

So I was looking at this heart transplant, maybe that would work, you know, this, you know, be innovative to use a heart transplant machine. They have this bowl that keeps the heart cold. So then, but then my wife left an article out on the hamper where all good ideas come from. And it was in Popular Science, which ironically…

just stopped publishing. They actually went defunct about two months ago. So anyway, there was an article written by Theodore Gray. Theodore is a, or Theo, he goes by Theo. But he’s the founder of Mathematica and he had a regular series. Well he had a chemist that was a friend of his that taught him how to make liquid nitrogen ice cream like they do in academics. And I just saw that and I said, well that’s it.

I said, let’s give that a shot. So I started, so we went out down to the chem lab at BYU and at that point in time they would sell to teachers. So I got a teacher to let us use our account. And so all of this happened when it did be, you know, it probably wouldn’t have happened later because you probably wouldn’t have been able to get nitrogen sold to you as an individual.

because the companies are pretty conservative about who they sell it to, more for liability. So anyway, but we started testing and I went to the, came back to the chemistry department to some of the people I knew. And I said, have you ever seen this being done? They said, yeah, we do it for chemistry days. And I said, well, is it sellable? Can you, is it good enough to sell? And they said, no, the process we use always comes out inconsistent.

Jerry: (27:42.982)
And that’s where I was like, well, okay, I’m just gonna shut up now because I think I can solve the problem. So, well, there’s an interesting, one reason I mention like people’s backgrounds matter, the mixture of your experiences through life matter about how you address different problems. If I’m a chemist, it’s one thing I’ve noticed is our process, okay, the process that’s out there in academics.

Anthony: (27:49.87)
because you’ve got a chemistry background.

Jerry: (28:13.262)
that is typically used even today. When they’re trying to show, look, see something freezes, they’re trying to show heat transfer in a classroom. They’re trying to show that, hey, look, see something that’s cold, make something else cold. And then I can draw heat out of it. And so, so what they do, because they’re not trying to make something, liquid nitrogen is very, very cold, so it can make it unedible, like very, very hard. So therefore,

chemists think about precision. Okay, when I have to think back of like my days in the lab, and they’re not trying to like, you know, cook things up like a little bit of this and a dash of that, and you know, it’s like, it’s a gram matters, you know. And it’s, so anyway, but I was more mechanic than I was a chemist.

And so anyway, but what I figured out is that what they would do is they would take a half a gallon of ice cream mix and put it in a bowl. And they would take one cup of liquid nitrogen and they would pour it in. It’s written down, this is how they would do it. And what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to drop it in temperature a little bit at a time down towards an edible texture.

Well, the thing you forget about nitrogen is nitrogen boils at a very low level. So as it hits the cream, it doesn’t mix. Okay, so it does not mix with the cream. It has no dissolve rate into liquids. So what it does, it’ll float. It’s less dense too, so it floats on top. So if you put one little cup in and you’ve got a big bowl, then…

it’s just going to make a puddle on the surface. And then if you stir, then it will skirt out to the edge and make the bowl cold on the edge and then freeze the ice cream to the edge. So then you end up with this really hard crust on the outside and still liquid in the center. But what we figured out, and this is what the patent’s on, is if you put…

Jerry: (30:34.994)
less cream in and it doesn’t it can work with a half a gallon but if you put less cream in so enough for a single survey now my goal is make one survey not a half a gallon but what that ends up being is a thinner layer of cream and it’s over a wider surface area and then if i put all of the cream nitrogen in to freeze that portion okay then it floats on top

Jerry: (31:04.75)
one-to-one but it’s about one-to-one and it’s so therefore the layers are kind of like this okay and right here in between there’s a it actually boils on top of that cream and it and it freezes a sheet of cream and then we take a spade and we go around the edge that thin layer like just like a meat slicer

takes that layer and raises it up and then creates another layer and another layer and another layer till it’s all done. So the, so the layer, you know, the formation of those layers is really what makes us unique. The

Anthony: (31:46.302)
And it helps give better consistency to the product then.

Jerry: (31:49.298)
Yeah, then it’s, it’s well, and then what we do is instead of like, remember down to the exact point where a chemist is going to bring it. Okay. The, um, we’re taking it below that point. We’re taking it, we’re actually shocking it lower than what is edible. But then I, um, one thing it’s also in the patent is, is having a secondary bowl with water jets underneath it or water that then tempers it and brings it up to that.

perfect texture. So what we’ve done since then, which is really the same thing, is we put sprayer jets underneath the bowl. So as once we’re done freezing, then we hit it with sprayer jet, and then it just, the equilibrium comes right together, and it’s just a perfect scoop. So it’s, but it’s not old soft. See the other thing about the other method that’s out there that’s patented, but not licensed by other franchise systems.

the Uses a mixer and what they’re doing is spraying and they’re trying to mix it you know Get it to incorporate the heat while mixing all the time. Well, if you think about a mixer a mixer can only Move through something that’s still semi-liquid it can’t get to a Harder texture like a hard pack it can get to a semi hard pack, but it doesn’t ever gets to a hard pack

So where we get to a hard pack or colder, we can make it softer. So the other thing is we can make different textures.

Anthony: (33:27.926)
And is that something that customers request as they’re coming through? They specify, hey, I want the cream base or I want the dairy-free base, and then they get to choose from a texture?

Jerry: (33:34.979)
Mmmm

Jerry: (33:38.446)
Right. So, people that know, and it’s kind of like a secret menu item, but we, you know, like they can make it peanut brittle. So like, it’s like, so you can pick it up with your hands. When you do that, that’s kind of like a dip and dot product, but it’s not even close to the same product because it comes out very irregular shaped. But it’s fun and

And then some people just like that. I personally don’t prefer it, but some people really like that really hard. You know, like people that like probably bite on ice, you know, but.

Anthony: (34:20.734)
And so for people who aren’t indicating a preference, what does the standard ice cream come out as? What would you compare it to? Is it like a gelato? Is it?

Jerry: (34:25.218)
We’re just, we’re trying to get…

Jerry: (34:29.962)
It’s a, it’s, I would say we try and hit the perfect ice cream for us. It’s kind of like a, um, a little bit harder than hard pack or about hard pack. Like a, like a scoop, but the thing is different is that, um, because it’s, because it’s still forming the water crystals, you gotta, you get it a little bit colder than a hard pack because there’s still equilibrium as, as you’re

scooping it that’s happening inside the molecules. So there’s, and the other thing that’s different about our product is most hard pack ice cream or even soft serve is 50% air. So I was just, we at my wife had some store bought ice cream in the fridge, we had some people over last night or in the freezer and I had a scoop of ice cream and I was like, oh, I’m never gonna have.

Well, I don’t eat store-bought ice cream very often or if ever. You know, this is what I have, what we have. And you know that when you take 50% air and stick it in, people ought to think they think they’re lactose intolerant. They’re not. My grandma, she died at 95. She said, well, I’m lactose intolerant. I said, but grandma, you got milk in the fridge. You’re not lactose intolerant if you’re drinking milk. And she says, but I can have your ice cream.

I said, it’s because of the air whip. I said, you get gassy when you have, when you’re taking something that’s half air and sticking it in your stomach. And now it’s releasing that air. And on a more expanded note, you know, everybody’s had a root beer flow, and it’s foaming, you know, and that’s because it’s releasing all that gas. And that’s what’s happening in your stomach when you eat.

Anthony: (36:20.35)
It’s not just from the CO2 and the root beer itself, huh? It’s releasing air bubbles from inside of the whipped ice cream. Interesting.

Jerry: (36:24.926)
No, it’s… Right. And so then you’re… So you feel… So it gives you a gassy… I mean, I was like, for two hours, I was trying to burp. And it gets trapped in those cream bubbles inside your stomach, and it’s like, jeez, this is awful. It’s like, how does even…

Anyway, but I think maybe I’m just getting old too, but I think it was really noticeable to me last night and I think it, I’m not lactose intolerant. I’m air weapon tolerant.

Anthony: (37:06.574)
It’s a whole new affliction there. And so this idea first started out when you had this struggling burrito shop. You’re like, okay, what can we do? Customers are asking for ice cream. You go to a supplier and you say, hey, can we do this? And they’re like, yeah, but we don’t recommend it because if you already don’t have the foot traffic for a successful burrito shop, unless you can come up with something really different, then this isn’t an approach we would recommend. So you set about trying to figure out, okay, how do I make something really different?

Jerry: (37:08.68)
Yeah.

Jerry: (37:18.307)
BOOM

Jerry: (37:25.454)
No.

Anthony: (37:35.314)
And so from the time when you kind of had this idea to the time where you served your first serving to a customer, what was that timeframe like?

Jerry: (37:48.27)
We serve somebody, we use the customers as kind of a test bed. So it was actually within six months, I’m coming up with the idea, six or eight months. But then what we found is that we had a lot of things to figure out. So we broke a lot of eggs when it came to, you know, serving the customer. And one of the things we had to figure out was flavors. So flavors, typically ice cream shops buy flavors in an emulsion.

kind of like bakers do and it’s really concentrated. So, but we’re trying to, and they’re putting, you know, a half a cup and 10 gallons of ice cream mix. And we’re trying to take and put, make a six ounce serving of ice cream. So oftentimes it would come out not flavored right, for one. And the other thing I was, we kept on testing is the efficiency of the nitrogen, the delivery of the nitrogen.

things like that. About two years in, I was still going back and forth to Praxair and I was getting nitrogen out of 50 liter doers. That’s all that was available and I was driving that back and forth every day from the welding shop. So there’s, so later I bought a military surplus tank that was a 400 gallon tank and they wouldn’t fill it all of a sudden.

because they said, well, it’s unsafe. And I’m like, well, it’s good enough for the military. I was, I mean, it’s milspec. And.

Anthony: (39:25.814)
And when they say it’s unsafe, what’s the safety concern? What happens if this is misused?

Jerry: (39:29.742)
It had a max Well, I think okay there you gotta understand that any these a lot of the nitrogen companies are union Places, so they take things kind of extreme oftentimes and what I mean by that is like they it the tank said the military tanks Said it had a maximum allowable pressure of 50 Okay, and the relief valve that’s on the tank

was a maximum or was set at 60 psi. All you have to do is change out the relief valve. Nothing wrong with the tank. It operates just fine. You know, so it’s, it’s that it’s that now the other thing is that they said we don’t provide food grade nitrogen. Well, this is one of the other fallacies out there in the nitrogen.

Anthony: (40:25.099)
Are there different grades?

Jerry: (40:26.99)
There are different grades. There are two grades. There’s a standard grade, which is 99.99% pure, which is what welders use. And then there’s medical grade, which is 99% pure. The FDA has a comment on their regulation that says it must be clean. It doesn’t have a purity standard.

Anthony: (40:53.038)
So did I understand that correctly? The medical grade is actually a lower purity?

Jerry: (40:56.858)
Right. So it doesn’t because the medical doesn’t, they don’t need it to be pure because they don’t care if there’s the only impurity you’re going to get is oxygen. So they don’t care if there’s a little bit of oxygen in it. And so, so they, and because for medical, for medical, they’re using it for warts and freezing things off. So for, for standard grade, they’re trying to keep oxygen away

Jerry: (41:27.114)
you know, some type of oxidation. And so the other thing is because of the FDA, the medical use is, even if I’m using it for a ward, is now considered prescription. So it’s tracked through prescriptions and procedures like in the medical field. And that’s why, so it’s all about paperwork and tags.

Anthony: (41:55.374)
So how did you finally overcome this, I don’t know if we call it a legal hurdle, but this challenge of people not wanting to sell it to you? Because you’re sort of in, it’s not that you invented the use case, but you’re popularizing it. You’re the first one trying to take it to scale.

Jerry: (42:04.302)
Um, well, you just.

Jerry: (42:11.914)
Yeah, so I knew that, so I bought that tank and then there’s a plant that, again, it’s like everything falls into place I think because of where you’re at. Most plants are not very close to people, they’re really industrial areas. We just happen to be close enough to an air separation plant that was only about maybe two miles away.

And I was able to convince another welding company to let me use their account to go into the plant and fill this 400 gallon tank. And so I was going down with my truck, or actually my dad’s truck, and then going in and getting it on the scales and being just like a trucker, bringing my own nitrogen. And…

So that happened for two years until they decided to tear down the plant. And then by that point in time, a new type of tank was being developed by chart industries, which was they could sit on the ground and be indoors. And then we were able to get that in our second store. And

Anthony: (43:29.33)
And so now somebody, a supplier comes to you to fill up your stationary tank.

Jerry: (43:33.99)
Yeah, so at that point in time, things had changed, you know, and those safety guys move on, retire for one in that company. So now viewpoints change. So we and new equipment’s being made for food and beverage out of the industry. So there, nitrogen, if you think about it, is used and you know, a

I don’t have a water bottle here, but if you have a water bottle, right, and it’s, and they’re really plump, they stack them all together inside a bat inside the box of the bag, but they feel a little drop of nitrogen inside of four caps. And the reason for that is to plump up the bottle. So it’s got some structure. So now they can stack them and they can carry weight. And so it’s, it was starting to be used for.

Anthony: (44:24.662)
And so it’s…

Jerry: (44:29.162)
a lot of food and beverage, but more manufacturing and not in the retail space.

Anthony: (44:33.378)
So at what point did we start serving liquid nitrogen ice cream to paying customers? And was it within the context of the burrito shop or had you opened a standalone location at this point?

Jerry: (44:40.171)
Thank you.

Jerry: (44:45.47)
I had extra space, about 700 square feet of extra space. And so what I did is I, and I walled it off because I was thinking I could sublease it. So I tore down that wall in 2000, mid 2004. And then by 2005, January, I think we served somebody.

like right before Christmas, because there’s a newscaster that came out like right before Christmas and did a Christmas special on us. So it was right about the beginning in 2005 is when we really opened, January.

Anthony: (45:27.131)
And did you feel like you had the process down at that point? Like it was fully refined or were you still tweaking it?

Jerry: (45:30.551)
with

There were still tweaks to it that were going on. I was trying different, well, but the main process was there. So the main process, what was being tweaked is some of the, how do you measure it? And how do you, because the thing that’s hard about nitrogen is it’s boiling as it’s being dispensed. So it’s,

So if you put it on a scale, it’s like, as it’s dispensing and filling this bowl and actually transmitting heat, it’s also evaporating. So your scale is going to go, you know, kind of, yeah, very hard. And there is a way, but it’s very costly. What I mean by that is it’s, you have to put equipment in the ceiling and you lose about half of your nitrate.

Anthony: (46:14.73)
It’s hard to dose, it’s hard to measure.

Jerry: (46:30.782)
So it’s, I prefer to do it a little bit different way. That’s a little more, little simpler, a little more cost effective, but also, I figure we’re doing things in front of the customer, where most of the other companies, they’ll turn on a machine, they’ll walk away, come back, there’s no interaction. And we stay right with the customer. My goal was like,

Anthony: (46:59.074)
You’re putting on a show. Part of this is the display component of it.

Jerry: (47:00.682)
Yeah, right. It’s the interaction. It’s like having a conversation with somebody over a counter. So what’s happening? Oh, well, as we pour the nitrogen, it draws the heat away and it goes back into the air. And then, so you explain the process to him. You kind of explain. And I like that because it, I have BYU in Utah Valley University.

They both have chemistry classes that get extra credit for coming in and explaining what’s happening in our shop. And that’s, that’s a huge, um, it kind of differentiated to have, you know, what a chemistry professor that says, Hey, listen, this is valuable to go figure out, you know, to our, to our class, to go write a paper, you know, an extra credit report on seeing this done. Um,

Anthony: (47:58.05)
What a great and creative way to get some more potentially paying customers some new eyeballs into your store and understanding what it is you guys do.

Jerry: (48:07.094)
Well, we do. We also have a STEM program. We’re the only company that I know of that, that takes, especially in the ice cream space, where we go out and do STEM presentations in school. So, so we have a curriculum that follows eighth grade, states of matter, and the schools pay us to come in and do STEM education. So we don’t talk about ice cream till the very end. The only thing we bring up about ice cream is the fact that

the way water crystals structures form. And we talk about hydrogen bonding, which is the teachers like that because they call it front loading. So a lot of the stuff we talk about, they haven’t covered yet, but it’s something that they will cover and they can refer back to it. So we talked about water crystal structure and then I said, anybody had really grainy ice cream that tastes like crap? You know, everybody has, right? And I said, well, that’s because water crystals continue to grow over time.

And so how do you make water crystals? If things grow, how do you keep things from growing? And the thing is you shorten the time. So we just use liquid nitrogen to freeze and we show how we can make a half gallon in 30 seconds.

Anthony: (49:19.906)
So Jerry, I wanna take a step back here because I wanna explore kind of your mindset through this whole process. Because I think, I mean, what you’ve done on the technical side is really interesting, but I wanna give voice to sort of your mindset in how this all came about. Because you were in a position where your sub shop was, or your burrito shop was not performing well, right? And that’s a place where most people get nervous, they get tense, that’s.

Jerry: (49:40.846)
Anyway…

Anthony: (49:45.346)
Doomsday scenario, woe is me, what was I thinking? I’m never gonna be able to figure this out. But you took a different approach. You were like, well, let me be curious about this. Let me ask some questions. Let me ask my customers what they want. And then when I get the answer, let me pull back several layers here because you started to hit some roadblocks even once you got those answers, right? You got the answers like, oh, we want ice cream. Okay, well, let me ask an ice cream supplier. And the ice cream supplier is like, yeah, this is somebody who.

stands to profit off of selling you supplies, right? And they’re telling you, yeah, I probably wouldn’t do that. Unless you can come up with something a little bit different. And rather than you seeing a door closing, you were like, oh, well, I heard them say, unless you could do something really different, let me do a deep dive on what this different thing could be. And it wasn’t like you got the answer right away. It took a lot of experimentation. It took a lot of fortitude to keep working through that.

Jerry: (50:16.827)
Right.

Jerry: (50:30.763)
Mm-hmm.

Jerry: (50:35.18)
Right.

Jerry: (50:42.922)
Well, it took four years just to flavor, just to develop the flavors, to figure out how to get the flavors right. I mean, four years. That’s a long time. And then once we got the flavors right, then it really came down to the fact that we would pre-dilute the flavors into a certain consistency. But because we’re using an all-natural emulsion, once you dilute the flavor, they start to ferment.

And so now you’re making flavors every day and throwing them out. So it’s, um, so there’s, anyway, there’s just a series of problems that, you know, when you have one time you figure out one thing and you got to figure out how to do something else. No Robert Hershevec says, why did you go to this when your Brito shop was? And yeah, right. And so my wife, and this got cut from the episode, but she’s, she says, well, it’s either this or go bankrupt.

Anthony: (51:28.746)
This is one of the sharks on Shark Tank. Yeah.

Jerry: (51:38.91)
And it’s just the refusal to go bankrupt, the refusal to give up, I think is part of it. So it’s like, you know, I had a, when I talk to potential franchisees, I tell a story about that, remember that Brito shop, it was called New York Brito, and there was 11 stores in Utah at one point in time, but there was one closing in Ogden. And I went up to buy equipment from them.

And because he was closing down his shop and he was a firefighter. Nothing is firefighters. It’s on my point, but, um, but I said, you’re not losing money and you’ve got a hundred thousand dollars into this space. I said, why are you closing? And I said, um, I said, you may not be making a lot of money, but you’re not losing money. And he says, well, you know, it’s getting in the way of my fishing. And I was like, okay. So my.

One of my sayings is if this gets in the way of your fishing, you probably shouldn’t do it. Yeah, yeah, I say, you know, it’s going to get in the way of your fishing. That’s what businesses do.

Anthony: (52:41.174)
And so you tell that to potential franchisees.

Anthony: (52:48.515)
Let’s talk about the franchising opportunity here. What does that look like for somebody? Somebody who’s…

Jerry: (52:53.662)
Well somebody buys of, you know, they come in, they inquire, they do discovery day and determine whether they want to do it. Then we got to go, you know, you have a franchise agreement. The franchise agreement says, you know, you’re going to follow our processes, you’re going to use our name and we’re going to help you get built out. We’re going to continue to support you for the life of the store. And

Anthony: (53:16.519)
Can we talk about numbers at all, like potential investment, what they might look at as a return?

Jerry: (53:23.222)
There are several different options. There are some restrictions on… I don’t have my FDD in front of me. So I have to refer back to that for numbers because every year you have to publish a franchise disclosure document. And if I were to say numbers that were not in there, then… But I can give you some ideas. I mean, what I can do is I can give you some ideas.

Anthony: (53:42.762)
Alright, well we’ll steer away from numbers then. Okay.

Jerry: (53:52.026)
We’re now offering mobile opportunities rather than just offering stores. So now you can do like a Kona ice type setup. It’s a lot less expensive than a Kona ice and you can go to a lot more places. So it’s, now what I mean by that is we don’t use electricity to make ice cream. So if you think about that, I can take and go make ice cream.

on the 11th hole of a golf course, or the penthouse suite of a high-rise office building. You know, it doesn’t, we’re not limited where we, I’m not limited to the parking lot, or the park, or, I don’t need any power. You know, I’ve got a picture of us in a park, and it’s a movie at the, a movie in the park for the city.

Anthony: (54:39.478)
You don’t necessarily need a power source.

Jerry: (54:52.542)
And all I’ve got is some good flashlights, don’t get me wrong, they’re good flashlights sticking in the canopy, and that’s all the power we’re using. So we can go and set up five minutes, we can be set up and five minutes we can be gone. So it’s a very, very simple process. So that’s the mobile aspect. Now what we typically have done is said, you know, you’ve got to open up a store.

So that’s our low cost, you know, entry. Um, so in the past, we’ve said you got to open up a store and then you get catering with it. And part of the reason we’re too nervous about managing territories. Now we’re just not. So the, um, what I prefer to have, my preference is to have the store and then the mobile as a hub. Okay. Because I, if you think about it, you’ve been to a lot of, um, conferences.

like in Vegas, whatever. Have you ever seen ice cream being served as a dessert? Never, okay? It’s too complicated to cater in most cases. So you can’t do large events. You can’t do, you know, it’s harder to do small events because you still got to bring in the same freezers. So you, and you’re really limited in what you can offer. I was talking to a chef in Boston.

Anthony: (55:52.534)
Hmm. Sure.

Jerry: (56:19.542)
He said, well, I just order from Cisco and whatever they have. Now, what if you’re a chef? Wouldn’t you want to do something really unique, like a raspberry balsamic or a, what we’re doing this, we’re doing honey lavender right now as a special flavor? You know, why wouldn’t you want to do something unique for your guests like you do with all your other?

food items that you produce. So it’s kinda, what I envision is like on the catering aspect, if we sell that, you know, selling it as a catering option is, makes another personal experience other than the store. And we can do, we’ve done 2,000 people events pretty easily.

It takes a little bit of planning, make sure you spread out, you have more than one station. But we have one station we do for the 4th of July, it’s called Talisker Club, but it’s up in Park City. It’s a very high-end community. And we do the 4th of July event for them. We do 900 servings in two hours. And we do it all out of two minivans.

and, of course, you know, it’s…

Anthony: (57:47.478)
So it’s a small setup. I mean, if you’re hauling it around and setting it again, you don’t need power, you just need the liquid nitrogen tank. It’s pretty easy to set up, pretty low cost.

Jerry: (57:54.412)
Mmm.

Yeah, very easy. It’s very easy. I mean, it’s a lot of work. I’m not going to say it’s not a lot of work, but it’s, um, it’s not going to be less or, um, it’s less work than doing other things and trying to, you know, if you get something, okay, there’s a friend of mine that owns a Cold Stone. And how we met was at a, at a wedding fair.

And he’s making ice cream and his freezer is not keeping it cold. He’s scooping off the top and throwing it out. And I just was like, well, that’s what the traditional ice cream places have to do. Even if it gets thawed out, they have to throw it out. If it’s, um, so I went over and I said, Hey, you know, listen, you’re just killing me on how much money you’re throwing out in the garbage. And, uh, so I went over, grabbed my nitrogen tank and refroze his ice cream so he can get it back to his shop.

at the end of the day. And I’m like, you know, it’s, but I don’t have that problem. I keep it at, the other thing that’s really innovative is ice cream is very mechanical. You know, ice cream and yogurt. In other words, you’ve got to have machines running all the time and they’ve got to keep it cold, you know, like negative 10, somewhere in that range. And the whole time.

So it’s in your storage, you have it probably even colder. So that’s a lot of energy just pumping all the time. So I have a double door fridge and a double door freezer. No, nothing in the front. So the electrical costs that we use is like a fraction of what a traditional ice cream shop uses. So the, you know,

Jerry: (59:47.306)
you know, if you want to get on the green brand wagon, that’s, we’re the ones that get on, because we’re just not using nit, or not we use nitrogen and electricity is what they use to make nitrogen, but they’re gonna make that regardless. They’re gonna make it, because nitrogen is really the waste product. In the atmosphere, we have five parts, five general parts, if you think about it. Four parts of it is nitrogen, one part’s oxygen, half a percent argon and 0.04% carbon dioxide.

So carbon dioxide’s a really, really smart, small part of the atmosphere. But the general five parts, four of it, is nitrogen. So when they make oxygen for industry, they get four parts of nitrogen. What are they gonna do with it? I mean, oftentimes they throw it back in the air so all the energy is lost just getting the oxygen and the argon.

Anthony: (01:00:35.906)
So because you’re able to use much smaller refrigerators and freezers at your location, the operating costs have to be a lot less. How does the cost of a serving of your ice cream compare to traditional ice cream place?

Jerry: (01:00:50.902)
Well, we’re about 30% less than the one around the corner from us. So it’s as far as our cost. I wouldn’t say we’re cheap, but I don’t think we’re expensive. I think we’re, we’re on par and our costs. I think so. And you get exactly what you want. And what I, what I mean by that is like, um, when the ice cream, when the yogurt fray phase was really growing and it’s still out there, um, and it’ll come back again.

Anthony: (01:01:02.69)
good value for what they’re getting.

Jerry: (01:01:20.074)
If I go into five people who want for ice cream. Now, according to the federal government, 14% of the consume yogurt, frozen yogurt, that was about, that’s an old number. So it’s probably increased. So let’s say it’s 20%. Um, cause it, I doubt it’s doubled. So it’s so 20% consume frozen yogurt. So five people go out for ice cream.

One person wants yogurt, so all five people go out for yogurt. Because they’re not going to leave that one out. These guys will settle. But then one of them’s vegan. One of them’s keto. And the other two are just a premium ice cream, giving you whatever fat you got. Well, if they come into Sub-Zero, every single one of them got exactly what they wanted. The keto guy got his keto ice cream. The diabetic.

Anthony: (01:02:18.07)
And so what’s the base for the keto?

Jerry: (01:02:20.63)
We use heavy whipping cream and almond milk with stevia.

Anthony: (01:02:26.482)
And the vegan, they’re getting almond milk.

Jerry: (01:02:29.462)
The vegan is, we have different mixes. We actually have several different options for vegan. They usually use either rice or coconut variant or an almond. And we actually have oat as an option as well. So we actually have an A rating with PETA because of all of our different vegan options. So it’s, we saw that in an article. There’s article popped up and it was like,

Subzero was rated by PETA and I’m like, oh crap. I got it, it’s not one of the organizations I really want to get on their radar on. And they gave like, exactly. So they, and they, so anyway it was, but yeah, we do, we offer a lot of variety.

Anthony: (01:03:04.141)
hahahaha

Anthony: (01:03:08.65)
Little did you know it was a good thing. It was a positive rating. That’s great.

Jerry: (01:03:20.898)
Now a lot of those are made on demand. Like some of those are powders that we add water to. We make it right there for the customer. So it’s very, very fresh. And it’s, and, but anyway, the point of the matter is we can have all the flavors. I mean, you think about, I mean, we were in our grand opening out in Ashland, Massachusetts a month or so ago. One of the customers started like,

I mean, he was just a kid and he just started calculating on a piece of paper like how many options there were in the store. And he came up with three quadrillion options. And I’m like, yeah, I mean, that’s plausible. It’s not, nobody’s gonna actually go down some of those roads. But anyway, my point is that there are that many options. So it does give.

Anthony: (01:04:14.374)
If you can’t find something to eat in your store, it just doesn’t exist then.

Jerry: (01:04:18.118)
It doesn’t exist. I mean, if you can’t make it, you know, if you want a darker chocolate, I’ve got cocoa powder. I’ve got, you know, you want it dark, you want it coffee. We’ve got coffee crystals, you know, espresso crystals. If you want protein, we can make it higher protein. Ice cream already is a small ice cream. This is what I think is funny. Okay, I was at a conference and one of the smoothie brands out there.

you know, ultra healthy smoothie brands. And they were saying, one of our new innovative products is gonna be a high protein smoothie. It’s gonna have 15 grams of protein, okay? This is like this size, right? And I go, dang, my little small ice cream has 10 grams of protein. And it’s only about, and your smoothie’s gonna be 500 calories to 700 calories and my ice cream’s gonna be 300.

for the premium. So anyway, the dairy.

Anthony: (01:05:21.438)
And what’s the protein source? Is it the milk, the dairy? Mm-hmm, yeah. So Jerry, I understand you’ve got a favorite T-shirt. It has something to do with Ted Lasso. Tell me about that.

Jerry: (01:05:35.798)
Yeah, there’s a lot of t-shirts I think I like, but like think like, think like Adam. Always be positive. So it’s a, but or but the Ted Lassow one is be curious, don’t be judgmental. And comes from a scene in the show, but anyway, it’s, it’s

Anthony: (01:05:58.943)
What does it mean to you? Why do you resonate with that so much?

Jerry: (01:06:04.162)
Well, don’t jump to conclusions for one. And realize that everybody’s going through different experiences. So as they’re going through different experiences, maybe be a little more understanding of what they’re. Now, being curious for me is, I think a lot, oftentimes a lot of people aren’t curious and they, today, and they don’t try and figure out things.

They want it figured out for them. And so it’s, don’t be afraid to learn.

Anthony: (01:06:42.434)
Do you think that this curiosity, this is innate to you, you were born with it, or is this something you’ve had to work at over the years?

Jerry: (01:06:50.33)
My mom talks about going to the merry-go-round when I was a baby, and then I would never look at the horses, I would look at the gears. So I think I was inherently born with trying to figure something out, you know, trying to break down what’s happening. And so I’m not going to say I’m a great engineer, but I’m very curious.

Um

Anthony: (01:07:20.886)
Well, I think it’s that curiosity that’s really carried you through this, right? Like, like we just talked about a few minutes ago, you didn’t see closed doors. You saw opportunities. Like, okay, we figured out this part of it. Well, now that opened the door to a whole new challenge, right? Now we got to figure out what to do with the flavors and, huh, well, let me put on my thinking cap and let’s see what we can do here. I mean, a lot of people would have just packed it in at some point along this way, right?

Jerry: (01:07:49.761)
Yeah, yeah and There’s a anyway, but there’s a there’s a

I’m very curious about business too and that’s one of the reasons why I started, I bought a franchise and wanted to learn about business. Chemistry didn’t do the best things for my GPA. I wasn’t the best chemistry student. I was running, I was trying to start another business at the same time I was running chemistry and so I actually had to take physical chemistry again because I was off doing trade shows on this other product. And not the best thing to do for your grades. But it’s…

But anyway, but I didn’t get into the MBA schools I wanted to get into. And so I decided I’d learn from a franchise. Now it’s, it’s been, what I would say, my advice is to always be willing to be open and willing to let people ask you questions. I recently went through a very kind of an emotional time.

And it was interesting because I really hadn’t been on LinkedIn very much. And I didn’t talk about this even at all about the fact that I was, I was having. Like, you know, a, a confidence in it. Part of it is just coming out of winter. You know, the ice cream business is pretty rough in the winter time. So you’re coming out of winter. Um, but, um,

And I, you know, I asked, I prayed about it. And just the next day, I had two different individuals that came out of the woodwork from LinkedIn that said, hey, I’d like to get on a call and just, I love what you’re doing. I’d like to see what I can do. Now, neither one of these people have been in the store that never talked to me and didn’t have a connection. Okay.

Jerry: (01:09:43.47)
They were just people out of the blue. They happened to both be BYU graduates, but they were just trying to give, okay? And the thing that bothers me about a lot of people in business is that they’re always trying to say, hey, I wanna give you something. I wanna give back. And they’re holding their cards like this. They’re hiding.

Anthony: (01:09:51.351)
Mm.

Jerry: (01:10:09.606)
And the thing that impressed me about this scenario that happened just the other day is they held their cards like this. And so if you understand what I’m getting at, they didn’t hold anything back. They didn’t have anything to gain. And it was one of the most refreshing experiences of my life to have that happen.

So it was, anyway, it was, so my advice is to be curious, but also part of being curious is to be open to listen to other people’s stories and share yours as part of that.

Anthony: (01:10:57.158)
That’s great. That aligns perfectly with that Ted Lasso shirt. Be curious, not judgmental. Aside from Ted Lasso, have there been other mentors or other books that have been influential in your path?

Jerry: (01:11:04.295)
BOOM

Jerry: (01:11:15.23)
I think the one that has probably been most influential recently is an old book, Power Positive Mental Attitude, or you know, Nora Vince Appeals. Power Positive Thinking, I think is what it’s called. But it’s, you know, Nora Vince Appeals has been dead for a long time. But I’d never…

listen to the book or read the book until I’ve always liked, you know, that genre. But he was very blunt about it, you know, about how to, you know, then so I was probably the, probably the most impactful book that I’ve come across. The other thing is it, there’s another book that I’m trying to implement, but it’s going to take a little bit of time. It’s called Traction.

It’s by Gina Wickman. And so we have a small team, and it’s hard to do that when you have a small team. You wear too many hats. So what I’m trying to figure out is how do we, I think we’re probably going to have to raise money and in order to hire some people so that I, what I think is I’m a really good creative, but I’m not necessarily a great integrator. So I think finding an integrator is our next step.

I think following that method of having a something with the common goals and not necessarily trying to take advantage. Roy Disney, I mean, I love the idea of like how they explain that this really the Roy Disney, Walt Disney, you know, partnership and Roy’s, you know, that he’s in the background, but he, you know, it wouldn’t have ever happened without Roy.

And as long as you, I had a partner that I expected early, early stage to be a.

Jerry: (01:13:23.402)
integrator, but this really before that book came out. And he always had the attitude of everybody’s expendable. And and I disagree. It’s not, you know, people are people and you need to treat them like people. There you need to be. So anyway, we had a falling out mostly because of our, you know, how we how we believed in, you know, that.

really kind of boiling around that and it was more complicated but we’ll just leave it at that. But I was expendable and that was… so anyway but coming back to… there’s a… and it is a religious school but there’s a speech that I recommend people read and just take it with a grain of salt because it is a religious school.

but it’s called Making a Living, Making a Life. And it’s that, you know, they have weekly speeches at BYU-Idaho, BYU-Provo, and you can get them online. But this one was 2010. It’s called Making a Living, Making a Life. And it kind of grades how you should live your life in business as far as A, B, and C, and D level, and how you make your decision.

So I would highly recommend, you know, as you make decisions, retrospectively, what is my purpose of making this decision? Is it, is it for my gain or is it for the customer? And always be looking to the customer and how you can serve the customer.

Anthony: (01:15:11.118)
That’s great. Jerry, I’ve got one more question for you before we wrap up. How is the best way for people to get in touch with you? They’re curious about your message, they love the innovation that you’ve done, maybe they’re interested in a franchise opportunity. What’s the best way for them to reach out?

Jerry: (01:15:19.524)
BOOM

Jerry: (01:15:27.442)
You can go to SubZeroIceCream.com. My LinkedIn has all my contact information. My phone number’s public. So it’s, SubZeroIceCream will have a contact page there, but you can find my phone number on LinkedIn. And it’s Jerry.Hancock at SubZeroIceCream.com or.

Anthony: (01:15:48.788)
Okay.

Jerry: (01:15:55.806)
801-319-7859. So I’m pretty open. I don’t hide my contact information. So I often, I print business cards by a minimum 5,000 at a time, but I put a coupon on the back. So I pass out my number a lot.

Anthony: (01:16:21.942)
Well, and you’re comfortable having that phone number published here, because I’ll tell everybody, I called Jerry right before our interview here today, and he picked up. It’s not like it went to a switchboard. It went right to Jerry, he said, hello. So, yeah, very open.

Jerry: (01:16:37.97)
Now, if I don’t, if you get my voicemail, just call back. Cause I’m not gonna get a voicemail.

Anthony: (01:16:47.731)
Okay, noted. Last question for you, Jerry. I’m curious how you see your industry or maybe your business in particular since you guys are leading the charge, you’re leading the way in innovation. How do you see it evolving in the next five years?

Jerry: (01:17:04.17)
our company or

Anthony: (01:17:06.114)
company or the industry in general. I usually talk about the industry, but you guys are kind of leading the charge here. So.

Jerry: (01:17:09.538)
Well…

Jerry: (01:17:15.062)
I think it’s gonna grow substantially. I think we’re gonna, I know that the patent holder that owns the other patents is probably gonna file something against the other franchisees. I hope that’s gonna be good for us. We’re the only ones that own our intellectual property. So we’re the only ones that own patents that are current. And the other thing is that, okay, I’m gonna say one thing.

Every once in a while I get comments like, well, liquid nitrogen ice cream’s a gimmick. Okay, well, I guarantee you right now, my experience last night about being gassy is not a gimmick. So the other thing is the fact that if you just try the product, it’s not a gimmick. You know, we can make everything, if it’s not made the way you want it, we can remake it. If there’s anything that’s too soft, we can harden it. But if it’s too, I call it the Goldilocks effect.

You know, it’s, you know, it’s, you know, so there’s nothing we can’t do. I think that there’s a lot of gimmicks out there, whether it’s putting a donut on top of a shake. I think it’s, I don’t know how to eat that. Um, you know, it’s, it’s like, but it’s pretty, I guess Instagram I think is what’s interesting about the, the industry. But I think when there’s come to a, down to a practicality, practicality for long-term. It’s, um.

I think we’ve got more flexibility than anybody else in our space. So I don’t know if that answers the question, but I think that a lot of the innovation in this segment is somewhat gimmicky, whether it’s a donut or a, I don’t know. I think that’s…

Anthony: (01:19:07.586)
Well, you’ve got a new patent in the works.

Jerry: (01:19:11.466)
Yeah, I’ve got to get finished. I’ve got the drawings done. I’ve got the, got to get the claims in and, but the whole, it’s a very different process. It’s, it’s actually entirely opposite from our current process. And it’s, and it makes, it really does well for, it doesn’t do well for small serving, like one single serving like our current, but it does really well for events where you’re doing, you’re going to have limited number of flavors. And,

again, gets rid of the electricity. You can go anywhere, make it fast, and the customer gets what they want. So we always take Italian ice out to an event, and part of that’s because it’s vegan and it’s also dairy-free, so it covers those allergy needs.

And so, but I also like doing Italian ice oftentimes because it shows the water crystal structure because it’s just water and sugar. So it shows how fine the water crystals can get. And oftentimes when I make the Italian ice, it gets, people will try it and I say, okay, tell me about that texture and I’ll get their input. And it’s like, well, there’s cream in that, right? And I go, no, there’s no cream in it at all.

Anthony: (01:20:35.566)
Mmm. Wow.

Jerry: (01:20:38.186)
So it’s so silky smooth that it actually feels like there’s cream in it. And it’s like, it’s just those small water crystal. I said, you’ve never had an Italian that tastes this smooth. And so it’s, um, so I think innovating, finding new, another new ways to innovate to, um, other products each, every time we come across a new, something else we can make, you know, I, okay, I’m going to tell you really extreme, this lady came in. She’s from California. I’m not.

I’m not trying to judge anybody, but anyway, but.

Anthony: (01:21:11.41)
Be curious, not judgmental, right?

Jerry: (01:21:13.062)
Yeah, exactly. But she but she was getting some ice cream for kids. But she was she says, you know, I really don’t want dairy and I don’t want sugar. Okay, well, that’s really, really tough. So I said, I said, well, ironically, I said, let me try making an Italian ice for you using stevia and, and just flavorings that our flavors don’t have any sugar in them. So it says we’ve designed

Anthony: (01:21:26.734)
Let me get you a water.

Jerry: (01:21:44.058)
so that they don’t have sugar, so that all the sweetener’s in the base. So, and she’s like, yeah, that’s really good. And I’m like, you know, I could meet somebody that came in and met the requirements that didn’t want sugar and didn’t want dairy. And so, and it was water for all intents and purposes. So.

Anthony: (01:21:59.97)
That’s impressive.

Anthony: (01:22:09.584)
Well Jerry, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today.

Jerry: (01:22:14.334)
All right, thank you.

Anthony: (01:22:16.002)
That’s a wrap here on another episode of the Inspired Stories podcast. Thanks for learning with us today.


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