What do you do with a little kids battery operated Barbie Jeep? You tear it apart and build a cart for the beach so you can sell Shaved Ice. In 2014, father and son, Bill and David Michalski did just that. Avid beach-goers and entrepreneurs, they thought of creating a motorized cart that would go up and down the beach selling Shaved Ice. If nothing else, it would be a way to torture their relatives back in Pennsylvania. Little did they know, three years later they would be creating and building motorized vending carts for the most famous themepark in the world.
What started as a creation in a one car garage, has turned into the two of them learning to weld, how to do engineered drawings, and continuing to refine the cart each version they have created. But, it wasn’t as if it happened over night. The two have spent thousands of hours engineering the final version of the cart from a used electric wheelchair, a transmission lift, house insulation, fiberglass shower board, and deep-cycle batteries.
After building the initial prototype out of wood and a Barbie Jeep, the two moved on to an electric wheelchair to power the unit up and down the beach. All the while not knowing if they could even use such a thing. After they built the second model, the two trailered the cart to the City of Cape Canaveral to show them the idea. At first, the City said that they didn’t allow such things on the beach. But, with a little persuasion, a few of the city officials were intrigued with the idea and went outside for a look.
The City agreed after showing the cart on the beach to council members to send it to a vote with the city council. It was agreed that the two would be given a six-month trial with the cart on the beach, and if all went well, a two-year agreement would be in place. The summer saw the two completing many trials and errors along the way. From having to try riding lawn mower wheels, having to build their own cooler to hold the frozen blocks of water for hours in the sun, to eventually using the balloon tires for ease of use in the sand. Along the way, Bill and David realized they were on to something. The response from the people on the beach was amazing. People were waiting for them every weekend to motor on by and enjoy one of their Shaved Ices on those hot summer days on the beach.
After the six-month trial was up, they went in to talk about the signing of the two-year agreement. They were told that instead of two years, the city wanted to offer a five year contract because of all of the positive feedback they had received. The City of Cape Canaveral had to rewrite the ordinance in place so that they could use the cart to sell Shaved Ice up and down the beaches of Cape Canaveral.
After their second successful summer on the beach, the father and son decided it was time to take their engineering abilities to the next level. They started with a chasis that resembles a wagon you would buy at the local hardware store. The third version of their SANDBONI was built out of aluminum and fiberglass, to make the cart as light and corrosive-proof as possible being in the salty air all day long. They incorporated a transmission jack to which they attached the Shaved Ice machine so the machine would raise and lower inside the cart during transportation. The cooler size was increased to allow up to 200 shaved ice servings in a day. A cash drawer was built in as well as washing system. And all of this was powered by the deep-cycle batteries, making the cart fully operational anywhere, without the need for electricity.
It was during this time that the City of Cape Canaveral contacted the two asking for another cart that could be used on the beach. As the two kicked around ideas to build an ice cream cart, a smoothie cart, they finally decided to build an iced coffee cart. Back to the garage they went as they spent more countless hours enhancing the carts before. During this time they presented their SANDBONI idea at 1 Million Cups, the “guppie tank” version of the television show “Shark Tank.” It was at this presentation at Rollins College that they teamed up with Accelergy Consulting. One of the founders of Accelergy had a contact at Disney that he wanted to show the cart.
A meeting was scheduled with one of the Imagineers and later a “show and tell” with the park operators at Blizzard Beach. A few months later, a trial run of SANDBONI 4.0 built by Bill and David was tested in the park over the summer. During this time, the duo worked with a local manufacturer to mass produce the carts for the themeparks. As in this process from the beginning, this was and has not been an easy task. So, back to the garage they went and started building the latest version of the SANDBONI. One that allows the customers to easily and quickly change the cart vending options from Shaved Ice to draft beer to a portable bar.
After the test run with Disney, the cart was re-wrapped and themed for display at IAAPA 2017. The feedback and exposure from the show has been overwhelming. SANDBONITM has landed an agreement to provide carts to the most famous themepark in the world, and are currently in talks with numerous themeparks, resorts, sports complexes, and national brands to provide the SANDBONIs as a vehicle to sell their products.
SANDBONI is currently working with the UCF School of Engineering to design and implement a robust drive system for the carts.
What went from a somewhat crazy idea in a garage, a lot of hardwork, determination, creativity, and never giving up on an idea has proven to an experience of a lifetime for this father and son.