Osceola County is brimming with women who wake up every morning and make a positive impact in the lives of others. This month, Osceola Woman Magazine had the honor of getting to know one of these women a little better. Jodi Hartmann is a mom, a veteran, and a Kona Ice truck owner. According to Tony Lamb, founder and CEO of Kona Ice, they had over 230 military franchise owners in attendance at their Kona Konvention. “We value our franchise owners, like Jodi, who have dedicated their lives to serving others and continue to do so through Kona Ice.” We had the opportunity to pick her brain and learn more about how her business combines her values with her experience and allows her to give back to others in a positive way.
What was the transition from military life back to civilian life like?
“Overall, the transition from military life to civilian life wasn’t too difficult for me. Immediately after my service as a Personnel Officer in the Air Force, I moved to Northern Virginia and worked at the Pentagon, so I was still immersed in supporting our national defense. Then, a year after I left active duty, I went into the Air Force Reserves. It was after I left the Reserves and Department of Defense to go work for another Federal agency that I experienced that sense of loss. There really is a sense of family and belonging in the military – one that is hard to match outside of it.”
What inspired you to go into the military?
“I always wanted to serve my country and serve others. I taught at St. Cloud High School for 2 years after college. When I realized that wasn’t exactly the best fit for me, I finally mustered the courage to go into the military. Actually, I was considering going into the Peace Corps as well. When I told my mother that, she asked me to choose the military because I would at least be able to “carry a gun.” Later, I found out that Peace Corps volunteers have the option…”
What inspired you to open your own business?
“It was an itch that I had had for a few years. I felt like I was in a bit of a rut and was not making as much of an impact as I had during my military career. However, I buried that itch and marched forward with what I felt was a less risky move – there is a lot of security with a steady paycheck. Then, one day, my daughter and I were at a traffic light and I was in a bit of a prayerful moment. I looked up and thought, “God, what should I do? Where do YOU want me to go next?” I kid you not – at that very moment a Kona Ice truck drove by! I then looked up and said, “Really?” When we went home, I started researching Kona Ice. I found that the company is very dedicated to building a sense of community and giving back to others – two characteristics consistent with my own core values and with what I found in the military. The rest, as they say, is history.”
What is VetFran? Can you elaborate on it?
“Honestly, I had to look it up for this article. It is a great resource for veterans to learn more about franchise opportunities, franchises to hire veterans, and veteran franchisees to share their experiences with fellow veterans.”
Who/what is your biggest inspiration?
“Not necessarily in this order, but I’d have to say – my daughter for giving me a purpose every day, my mother for her perseverance and sense of serving others, my dad for pushing me beyond what I thought was possible, my step-mom for modeling how to see the best in others and treat them with kindness, and God -for everything.”
Do you have a quote or a mantra you live by?
“Yes, it’s one that I developed while in a leadership seminar in college – Every day, be the reason that a least one other person smiles.”
Tell us about Kona Ice-how did you know it was a good fit for you?
“I touched on this above. The first thing that attracted me was their dedication to giving back. Fundraising is a core characteristic and that’s important to me. When I dug a little deeper, though, I found that they are so much more. The corporate office is truly committed to supporting franchisees – as evidenced by their consistently high ratings for franchisee satisfaction. Their business model made it feel less risky to me. And most importantly, going down this path was a sign from God. In fact, I named my Kona truck Ikaia which means, “God delivers” in Hawaiian.”
What makes what you do special, unique, fulfilling, etc?
“Oh my goodness, when I see the smiles on the kids faces! I came from a career in Human Resources, so I wasn’t always the bearer of good news. Additionally, this is a family business. The legal name of the business entity is Jo-Bex & Family, LLC – derived from Jodi (me), Rebecca (my daughter), and my family who have been so supportive of me and the business. It has lived up to its name! I also love writing the giveback checks to schools and other organizations I serve, because it gives me the sense that I’m doing something bigger than me and my little world.”
Self discipline is obviously a big part of what you do-how do you keep yourself on track? Do you have any goal setting tips?
“Lists – I have to write down everything and check it off. Otherwise, I get too overwhelmed to be effective. Regarding goal setting – my HR background was focused on Performance Management, so I see the value in SMART goals (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time bound). I also think stretch goals are important to keep pushing me further.”
Is there anything else you would like people to know about you, your background, or Kona Ice?
“Although I was gone for 20 years, Osceola County is my home. I grew up here and love it. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind folks that we’re here to serve the community. Give us a call – we serve so many kinds of events – schools, youth sports, churches, parties of all kinds, company appreciation (employee and customer), daycares – the list is endless. Just tell us where to park and we’ll be there.”