Icing down the Summer Heat

This year family owned and operated, Hilke's Ice Company in Freeburg is celebrating 40-years in business.

In the summer heat, ice companies stay busy.

They are in high demand when the sun is shining and temperatures are soaring.

One of those businesses is located right here in mid-Missouri, in Freeburg.

This year family owned and operated, Hilke's Ice is celebrating 40-years in business.

"It started at a little restaurant across from our Catholic church with a 400 lb. maker and now we are up to 120 tons of production," manager, Laron Hilke said.

Because of federal regulations put into place after the attacks on September 11, 2001, cameras weren't allowed to see the actual making of the ice.

Laron said that was because the facility is considered a food plant and only certain people are allowed inside.

While the rules and regulations have become more demanding, he said it's a good thing.

"I use mine every day,â?? Laron said. â??I want to make sure if I put it in my mouth, I want to make sure it's the best product there is."

"Hilke isn't just a last name, it's a brand, one many people identify with these blue bags which you can get at gas stations, like convenience stores, grocery stores, campgrounds, restaurants and more and they are filled with ice.

"We're up in Macon, down to Mountain Grove, Washington, Pacific, we're down at the lake and then to Patosi, Cuba, and so on,â?? Laron said.

Zachary West is a third generation Hilke who has become a jack of all trades at the company.

He says it's a business that's dependent on good weather.

"If we get a lot of rain, it really slows us down,â?? Zachary said. â??The more sunshine, the better, the harder we will be working, more hours, bigger pay."

Their biggest day, surrounds the red white and blue.

"The Fourth of Julyâ?¦in our industry, that's our Super Bowl week right there,â?? Laron said. â??Our business revolves, 51 weeks, around one week of business. Everybody is on vacation, everybody is celebrating Americaâ??s birthday and if the weather is right, like it was this year, you are guaranteed a good year.â??

At their peak, Hilke's Ice turns out 120-tons of ice a day.

"We'll use right at 87,000 gallons of water in a 24-hour period," Laron said.

For years, block ice was the way of life, but times have changed

â??Block ice is a generational thing,â?? Laron said. â??It's something that people over 50 know how to work with...People under 50, they just want the cubed ice. It's not convenient. They want to open that blue bag up, dump it over their drinks and go on."

As the summer heat rages on, so do the employees at Hilke's Ice Company.

Laron said his parents who started the company, are still very involved in the business.

His mom oversees the books while his dad oversees everything and gives the delivery drivers their orders each morning.

All of the water Hilke's uses, comes from right there, in the city of Freeburg.