There’s more to ice than meets the tumbler or chainsaw or sledding hill.
It comes cubed, crushed, dry (solid carbon dioxide), carved into almost any shape you can imagine, and even blown as snow to simulate winter wonderlands far any snowcapped mountain peak.
The Old Town Newhall Ice Company has sold all manners of frozen water from the same building on Fifth St. between Railroad Ave. and the Newhall Ave. traffic circle, since the building went up in 1922.
“Some drivers have had a hard time adjusting to that roundabout,” and to the fact that Fifth St. is no longer a cut-through, said Trey Hajek, co-owner with his wife Sara of Old Town Newhall Ice.
They bought the 111-year-old company for $400,000 seven years ago. They still get asked why anyone would get into the ice business decades after refrigeration ceased being a novelty.
“Trey and I got first dibs,” Sara said. When the previous owners, Will and Kathy Pape, were ready to sell in 2010, Sara had been doing the company’s books for three years, and Trey had worked there for a decade.
After four years with the Marine Corps at El Toro and Yuma air stations, Trey (given name: Russell Louis Hajek III; Sara was born a Martucci) started at Newhall Ice in 2000.
He worked his way up the icy ladder from delivery driver to office manager to route scheduler, to co-owner.
Anyone who thinks the ice business is simple needs to come in from the cold.
For example, one might consider ice to be no more a food than ketchup is a vegetable.
For taxation purposes, the state Board of Equalization agrees that it’s not, making it subject to sales tax.
The state health department says yes, ice is a food, meaning distributors like Old Town Newhall Ice are subject to the same health inspection rules as restaurants. The company displays its “A” rating in the front window.
Simpler ice sculptures still are made with a chainsaw. More intricate ones are laser cut.
As for the sledding hills, visualize a sterile version of a wood chipper. Add 100 tons of ice, spray on the ground.
The city of Diamond Bar’s Winterfest has been a customer, as have organizers of the holiday celebration in Pershing Square in downtown LA that takes place the first weekend of December.
Wedding receptions, graduation parties, film shoot locations, and private parties round out the company’s business.
Drivers pick up ice from Old Town Newhall Ice.’s supplier, Arctic Glacier..
They still go to the old Union Ice Co. plant in Vernon. Union Ice was founded in 1882 and has been a unit of Winnipeg-based Arctic Glacier since 2007.
The Hajeks have been together since 1993, their junior year at Saugus High School.
Sara’s father worked for the Los Angeles Department of Power & Water. So when the couple wed in August 2002, naturally they exchanged their vows at the San Francisquito Power Plant No. 1.
While the Hajeks own the ice business, they rent the building and land it’s on from Bev-Serv Inc., a Southern California Coca-Cola distributor that does business as The Great American Beverage Co. and Great American Syrup Co. Bev-Serv bought the property about a year and a half ago for $1 million, Trey Hajek said.
Though they have no plans to sell, the Hajeks are getting their company appraised as soon as the Board of Equalization completes its sales tax audit.
“It’s always good to know what your company is worth,” Sara said, “We just hope it’s worth more than we paid for it.”