Community Partner Podcast Series: Eric Woody and WOW Frozen Yogurt

[Below is a transcription of the podcast]

Cheri Landin: Hello and welcome to The Mortgage Company’s Community Partner Podcast series. My name is Cheri Landin and I am the Community Development Director for The Mortgage Company and one of the things that I get to do in this role is to interview our community partners. And I am with one of ours today. His name is Eric Woody. Hi Eric.

Eric Woody: Hi Cheri. How are you?

Cheri Landin: Good. I know maybe you’ve seen this around town, maybe, who knows. It’s called Wow Frozen Yogurt. It’s a mobile like there are food trucks, but this is a roaming truck that serves frozen yogurt.

Eric Woody: Correct. Twenty-five feet long. You can’t miss it, pink blue, aqua.

Cheri Landin: Not to mention the fact that the driver is about a 6 foot 7 man named Ross Right?

Eric Woody: Big Russ is 6’7″, a big smile on his face. Oh yes and about 7-foot wingspan. Loves the kids, we’ve really kind of pushed the community. We go to a lot of neighborhoods and we do a lot of things for churches and schools. And really the community is why we got into it.

Cheri Landin: Alright. So yeah, I want to talk about that. So this is new somewhat to you. I mean like what’s your history? I mean you personally, you’ve had many, you’ve been in the professional world for a long time and suddenly you’re like, “I’m going to buy a frozen yogurt truck.” How did that happen?

Eric Woody: Well it started out with Big Russ coming to me and saying, “There’s this great brick and mortar shop out in Highlands Ranch called BTO, By The Ounce Frozen Yogurt.” And his son went to Valor and would go there daily, loved it and then started to work for him. Lo and behold, the gentleman, Jack liked Brandon and shared with him, “I’m thinking about selling.” So Brandon went to his dad. His dad came to me and that’s how it all started. And once we started to look at it, it was just way out in Highlands Ranch which is really far for me, one. Two, employees, which is always a challenge. But there was this Yo-Mobile, the only one in Colorado.

Cheri Landin: One frozen yogurt bus?

Eric Woody: Yup, mobile frozen yogurt truck. And I thought, well this is unique. Step back and Brandon had taken the truck and was a driver and slinging yogurt to all sorts of different events.

Cheri Landin: Just on a test run kind of a thing?

Eric Woody: No he was working there. So I said, “Well can I go along with this?” And I love the yogurt.

Cheri Landin: It’s delicious, by the way, I’ve had it. This is a true testimonial to the yogurt.

Eric Woody: Six different flavors and 18 toppings. So we went to a school and the kids, when this bus rolled up it was just like magic. They just came running out screaming yelling and lining up and formed a line of 30 to 40 deep. Just served it up and where else do you get smiles and they’re happy and it was healthy. So I thought, “Well this is fascinating.” So I dug a little further and it’s profitable. He had been around since 2012 but he only pushed the truck from May till Labor Day and then that’s it, shut down.

Cheri Landin: Because he had his brick and mortar store.

Eric Woody: Yeah. So his reasoning behind, he wanted to retire. And I said, “Well maybe let’s just look at the Yo-mobile sales.” Well, you look at that and thought this is fun. This could be really, really fun. My son was interested. Russ and his son Brandon, they were ready to go. I was going to raise some money for the whole thing, the brick and mortar and the Yo-mobile. And right towards the end, I said let’s just go with the Yo-mobile. Let’s just take that out and lets I don’t know, let’s do it. Let’s get in there and enjoy and give back because we do give back a portion of our sales to churches and schools and or event money, a fundraiser. So we’ll do that as well. We talked about putting together, once we get established a little bit more and we start to make some money, that we put a foundation ourselves together and to be able to give back, distribute some of our profits to groups that are in need of some funding. That may take another year or so but yeah, in the interim we are out there, we’re active and we want to be, with 300 days of sunshine.

Cheri Landin: Well yeah. So that’s I was going to say. So a couple of things. Number one how great is that? Like honestly how great is it to do something and go somewhere where all you see all day is smiles coming up to you as they fix their own yogurt right. We’ll go over that a little bit about how it works but how wonderful is that? And you know you mentioned the other owner prior to you only did it for few months out of the year because that’s just what worked for him he was getting out of business. And now with you guys taking this truck over 25 foot long frozen yogurt truck I love it. You’re doing it year round.

Eric Woody: Last year we purchased the bus in June so we missed quite a bit of events because he wasn’t able to secure it because we were still going through contract negotiations. But this year we are booked literally June I think we only have four days open, July I think we only have four or five days open.

Cheri Landin: and you do multiple events on a daily basis?

Eric Woody: So Big Russ, I’m not sure where he’s at from 12:30 to 2:00 and then tonight at a neighborhood.

Cheri Landin: He’s sleeping in a parking lot hopefully, getting a break.

Eric Woody: The other truck vendors, they come up to us and they love it. You know we’ll actually share, we’ll have a little dinner they get some yogurt and it works out very well. But they just are amazed that it’s self-serve. They hand us the money, $7 dollars a cup and put as much in there as they want. And you know big smile. They serve it and they wander off. And all we have to do is make sure that we’ve got enough yogurt in there, the toppings are nice and clean and that’s about it. And we don’t have to worry about grease, we don’t have to worry about fires, we don’t have to worry about propane tanks. And it’s reusable because once the event is over, what we do is we have to empty the yogurt out. We have 20 days in which to reuse it before it goes bad but we have so many events where it’s gone in a couple days. So we don’t have any loss of product where a lot of these other food vendors, they’ve got meat or it starts to rain and you can’t you can’t freeze things. So it’s a very clean business and it’s healthy.

Cheri Landin: So I’m wondering why there’s only one in the state of Colorado right?

Eric Woody: Right. You know I looked into that. There’s Kona Ice but that’s shaved ice with sugar water. And they charge seven dollars and we charge seven dollars, but you’ve got a lot of options. But there is another truck in Arizona that I’m looking to purchase. I was hoping to do that this year but and bring it to Colorado because we have multiple events. We’ve had to turn down so many events this year, it’s just insane. We really don’t do any marketing. It’s been word of mouth. We did buy Jacks customer list. So it’s basically from Hampton to Parker to Santa Fe to Parker Road. I mean that’s kind of the area so nothing in Denver, we don’t do hardly anything in Denver so want to have one for Denver and the Northside, Westminster, Thornton, and things and then have the others, the south side.

Cheri Landin: If someone did though in that area right now want to hire you, you’re open to that I’m guessing?

Eric Woody: Oh yeah. OK.

Cheri Landin: Well you know it’s funny when people think about frozen yogurt year-around. I live right down the street from Little Man Ice Cream. I’m in the Highlands area and throughout the entire winter, there are lines around the corner. So it’s like yeah people want ice cream even when is cold out right?

Eric Woody: It’s frozen yogurt, Cheri!

Cheri Landin: Understood. And it’s no different with the frozen yogurt. Right. But the beauty of what you have is it’s mobile so you can go to places. So just talk a little bit about, you mentioned some of the events that you go to. Is there anything specifically that you like to do best? What types of events does it make sense for? Are there minimums or how does that work, like to make it worthwhile for someone?

Eric Woody: Well you know we look at each event differently. We have a minimum of $650 dollars. But in some instances where there’s an event for you know a child that’s sick or ailing, we’ll pretty much give it to them, trying to help the cause. Some of the other events that we go to, we’re part of the Englewood Concert Series they just had Chris Daniels and the Kings, which I haven’t seen them in 20 years. But then this Saturday, we’re at Hudson Gardens, so the OJs are playing. So we’ve got those type of venues, weddings, graduation parties, Spring Fling, schools, back to school or year-end school events. I mean the kids, usually really the kids and the moms or women, love it. I mean it’s perfect.

Cheri Landin: Sporting events?

Eric Woody: Sporting events. Absolutely. A lot of high school football games, doing Regis High School Women’s Volleyball.

Cheri Landin: How about corporate parties, like summer barbecues?

Eric Woody: Corporate parties or management companies, they have employee appreciation. So we will go out to the parks, to the business parks and they’ve got their clients or their companies and they say yeah bring it on out. And that’s big. Car dealerships. We just did Honda. We did Mercedes and we did Kuni Honda, Kuni Lexus and they just love it. I mean it’s hard to miss.

Cheri Landin: Well I think too, it’s a great option for people, people are planning parties or there’s something going on and there are food trucks or maybe there’s even like a caterer for food. But as a dessert alternative to having the food truck. It’s fun, it gets people out there, it gets them engaged in the process. They get to meet friendly people serving it and its just a different twist on it. And I think it’s really kind of cool.

Eric Woody: Yeah there are hundreds of trucks, food trucks, but there are not many desert trucks and then ours is so unique because we’re frozen yogurt.

Cheri Landin: And it’s better than eating cookies and cake.

Eric Woody: Even though cookies and cream are one of the flavors.

Cheri Landin: But it’s frozen yogurt!

Eric Woody: Or cake batter. It’s frozen yogurt, yes!

Cheri Landin: And watch the toppings. Fruit toppings, please.

Eric Woody: But I think the biggest thing was our mission was really to build a better community. We were at the auto show at the Arapahoe Community College and there was thousands of people, beautiful cars, and we had a line deep of 20 to 25 and people are mingling, actually talking to each other, not knowing who they are or getting their yogurt and then visiting amongst it. So it just seems like today everybody is so independent and solitude and they’re off on their phone or their surroundings aren’t a big deal. And Brandon put on our website. I’ll just read it to you because I can’t memorize it. But it is stated perfectly where he said life is short. We want to step in and bring a breath of fresh air to our community with our product and our people and our passion. I’m a very passionate person as you probably can ascertain. And I love people and I love life. And you know it’s great to see those smiles and joke with them.

Cheri Landin: Yeah and I appreciate that. And that too is really kind of in alignment with The Mortgage Company. The reason we have our Community Partner Program and we’re glad that you guys are a community partner. We’ve had you at events here at our office and it’s always been a hit. I’ve been at a few events now where it’s been and everyone always loves it so. Absolutely. And I think in the Denver metro area just in general, there’s so much movement and it’s so transient. People are in and out and when it’s so active and there’s that bustle, you tend to lose the sense of community. So I think if there were more people and businesses out there that really tried to support that for each other it just makes it that much better.

Eric Woody: Absolutely. I agree.

Cheri Landin: Alright so then Mr. Eric, how does someone get in touch with you if they were interested in finding out more about the fro-yo truck. Perhaps they have an event coming up that they want to just learn more about it if the dates available even because I know you are busy but how do they get hold of you?

Eric Woody: Right, because this is not my only business. I’ve got another company to run but I actually love the interaction. So anybody can contact me directly on my cell phone which is 720-440-1034. Or my email is EricWoody37@gmail.com. Brandon does all the scheduling and does some of the back office.

Cheri Landin: And there’s a website?

Eric Wood: There’s a website and that’s Wowmobilefrozenyogurt.com. OK. And you’ll see on there, a picture with Von Miller, We did his foundation in Glendale. They did a nice article on us last year with Von Miller and Brandon. But it’s good to come to me because right now Brandon is undertaking two jobs, getting married and going to school. So somethings have possibly sometimes slipped through the cracks. So that would be the best way to get a hold of me and give me a ring and I can pull up the calendar schedule.

Cheri Landin: Sounds good. Alright well, thanks for coming in and talking to me about it. I appreciate it.

Eric Woody: I appreciate you having me.

 

Cheri Landin

 

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