Geno’s Minno Mart sells its ice routes after 38 years

May 16, 2018 GMT

COLUMBUS – It was a bittersweet moment when Geno’s Minno Mart owner Dan Kneifel finalized the deal to sell the ice portion of his business to Arctic Glazier on May 14.

“We are just selling the ice route,” Kneifel said. “The shop is still here.”

Despite the change, its fishing business continues as usual with no plans of letting go just yet, Kneifel said.

Former-owner Francis Kneifel, who was also known as Geno, and his wife, Delores, founded Geno’s Minno Mart in 1962. As the business continued to grow, Francis introduced the ice business in 1980.

His son Dan returned upon completing his education in electromechanical technology in Southeast Community College Milford Campus to help his parents with the ice business in 1984.

“It just worked out,” Dan said. “We sold a lot of ice here back then.”

When Dan received his first ice-delivery request, he had to look around the shop for an ice box and simply delivered it with his pickup.

“We started delivering ice and the next thing was we needed more machines so we started buying more ice makers and then we built a trailer,” Dan said.

The trailer was made out of wood and Dan built in a freezer. He then began delivering ice with the trailer hooked up behind his pickup.

“That didn’t last long,” Dan said. “Then we went for a truck.”

After 38 years in the ice business, Geno’s attracted numerous clientele within the Columbus area and gradually grew to Schuyler and Fremont. Dan and his brother Tim delivered ice seven days a week to locations within a 70-mile radius.

Since the passing of Francis nine years ago, Dan’s wife, Billie, offered her time to help out with the business.

“She is a very good help and a good daughter-in-law,” Delores said.

Tim tragically passed away in a car accident last November. Dan and Delores highlighted the struggles of finding someone else to take over his position as a driver.

“After Tim passed, I told mom that it’s time,” Dan said. “It’s time to slow down.”

Delores said it is a demanding position that required a dedicated person working seven days a week. The business will take a big hit if the person misses a day.

“I’d be hard to find drivers that you can count on constantly,” Dan said.

Arctic Glacier produces packaged ice to consumers in Canada and the U.S. The company has been eyeing on Geno’s Minno Mart for years trying to purchase its ice routes, Dan said.

Dan and Delores were left with mixed feelings letting this part of their business go. They are happy to relieve the workload but are sad to let go of some of their clientele.

“So it’s sort of a bittersweet thing because we know all of these people from 70-miles around from the ice business and then people from all over for the fishing business and you kind of have mixed feelings because there are so many people that traded with us that we appreciate greatly and still do,” Delores said. “We will miss so many of them.”

Geno’s Minno Mart is at 1771 33rd Ave. in Columbus.

Natasya Ong is a reporter at The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.