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From Traffic Jam Commuter to Franchisee to Franchisor: The Unconventional Journey of Frios Gourmet Pops’ CEO

Cliff Kennedy was stuck in rush hour traffic when he finally decided to see what all the fuss was about at the Frios stand. One taste was all it took for him to pursue ownership of the company.

By Erica InmanStaff Writer
4:16PM 04/22/24

In this episode of “Meet the Zor,” 1851 Franchise CEO and publisher Nick Powills interviewed Cliff Kennedy, CEO of Frios Gourmet Pops about his journey into franchising, first as a franchisee, and soon after as a franchisor.

Powills highlighted the typical avenue into franchising, when an individual who is disenchanted with working for somebody else decides to become a business owner. For Kennedy, however, this was not the case. Kennedy stumbled upon Frios Gourmet Pops and was so enraptured by the product and the brand that he decided to jump headfirst into franchising. How did he find the brand? He passed it daily during his dreaded commute home from his corporate job.

“I got stuck in traffic every single day and I saw a Frios stand,” Kennedy said. “I decided to stop and try the key lime pie and it just transformed me; it was truly an experience unlike anything else I'd had the experience with an ice cream truck.”

Kennedy’s enthusiasm for the product launched him into franchising, which meant leaving behind a successful and comfortable family business to pursue something bigger. As a franchisee, he was initially disappointed in the brand’s leadership and strategy. However, this disappointment soon turned into inspiration; Kennedy knew there was a great opportunity to be had.

Not one to sit around and wait, Kennedy reached out to the owner of Frios at the time and let him know he was interested in buying the company; this was only a couple of months after investing as a franchisee.

“I became a franchisee on May 1st of 2018. I made that call in August,” Kennedy said.

Powills and Kennedy discussed this importance of support systems and infrastructure in franchising. These factors, along with the brand’s innovative ideas, have led to Frios’ growth. One of these innovative ideas — perhaps the most impactful — was mobilizing the business.

“That was a pivotal moment; I realized that you can't get a thousand people to come to your brick-and-mortar store and celebrate a company event, but if you mobilized and went to them, you could serve a thousand people in 30 minutes,” Kennedy said. “Let’s go tie-dye-wrap-up a van and let’s go do this thing.”

Frios offers a range of seasonal flavors, meaning the popsicles feel relevant and can be enjoyed regardless of the weather, and Kennedy is always striving for ways to make his modern ice cream truck concept stand out even more. As for the future of Frios, the brand has recently expanded to 89 territories and has the goal of reaching 100 territories in the near future.

Watch the full interview above, or check out the full video on YouTube