BY RENEE HENDRIX –
In 1991 the Aynes family decided to embark on a new enterprise and bought the Bunch Ice Company from Jim and Joann Bunch. When asked what were some of the biggest changes from then till now, Todd Aynes exclaimed, “That the production and operating techniques were quite different all those years ago.” Back when they first opened, it took them one hour to fill 400 bags of ice. Now fast forward to 2016, the company has the technology to bag 37 bags per minute and bag an impressive 600 bags of ice in an hour. Times have certainly changed.
The family worked 7 days a week during the summer months to accommodate all of their customers in the early years. Working so many hours coupled with working alongside family, funny stories are definitely going to emerge. One such story included Todd and his sister, Tracy, on a routine delivery but in the height of the moment, Aynes forgot his gloves just as the duo exited the truck. He immediately turned to go back to the truck to retrieve them and Tracy went to her assigned area. He then began hearing a whamming sound only to discover Tracy throwing bags of ice at the machine where he was suppose to be. Aynes says he still laughs at that story even today.
Todd and his wife, Angie, took over the business in October of 2013. Aynes feels he has learned many things since his family acquired the ice business. Aynes said, “I remember telling my mom that I wanted other ice companies to be afraid of me. I have now learned that growth and expansion is not always the answer. I am extremely happy and satisfied with a business that makes me a living and I do not want to become a huge company anymore. I am blessed to be active in and a big part of my children’s lives with attending ballgames and family activities. I have had time to go and take off and spend with them. I have been able to take time and be a coach for both of my kids in a variety of sports.”
Aynes has a remarkable ice bag collection. Starting as just a neat spur of the moment purchase that has now escalated into a 20 year impressive collection with even an ice bag from Kuwait from a former employee Scott Roberts. Upon noticing his ever growing hobby, customers began to pick them up in their travels, buying a bag of ice and bringing him back the ice bag.
In the last 25 years of business, one of their greatest accomplishments was sustaining the old clientele of Bunch’s Ice Company. Several of the seasoned customers are Shangri La Resort, Smith’s Grocery in Cove and Wickes, Bob’s in Grannis and Hwy 27 Fishing Village in Story, AR. Aynes said, “We truly appreciate all of our customers, especially the ones who have stayed with the company. They have stayed with me for 25 years… even with the price increases.” Aynes covers a 70 mile radius, going from Poteau, Okla. to Hot Springs Village and Lake Ouachita.
“I would like to thank all of our customers; it has been a privilege to serve you all of these years.” Aynes said appreciatively.