July 15, 2003 - Carlisle Sentinel: Kenya RPCVs Tom and Kim Leo return to open Ice Cream Parlor

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kenya: The Peace Corps in Kenya: July 15, 2003 - Carlisle Sentinel: Kenya RPCVs Tom and Kim Leo return to open Ice Cream Parlor

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 9:03 am: Edit Post

Kenya RPCVs Tom and Kim Leo return to open Ice Cream Parlor



Kenya RPCVs Tom and Kim Leo return to open Ice Cream Parlor

Dream leads to Africa and ice cream

By Ella McComas, July 15, 2003

The Peace Corps and Leo's Ice Cream have something in common: Tom Leo dreamed of both.

In 1996 Leo and his wife, Kim, joined the Peace Corps and spent a year and a half in Kenya. Kim Leo taught business at a youth polytechnic college and Tom Leo helped people with small businesses startups.

They joined the Peace Corps with dreams of making a difference in the world. But they were disappointed.

"People go to Africa and they come back real cynical," Tom Leo says

There is no way to compare living in Africa to living in the United States, his wife says, "Life there is so difficult. People are so poor."

"Things just don't work in Africa," Tom Leo says in ticking off oppressive government, overpopulation and corruption as conditions that add to the plight of the people living there. "A lot of things take away from people's ambitions."

That's not the case in America. So, after returning to this country, Tom Leo worked at various jobs in the area as he looked for a niche of his own. And he started to think about pursuing his dream.

"All along my plan was to open an ice cream parlor," he says. "It is something I have wanted to do for a long time."

He is experienced

He learned to make ice cream years ago when he worked on his father's farm and in the family store, Leo's Dairy Market on the Holly Pike in South Middleton Township. The store sold milk, produce and ice cream.

"I always liked the ice cream part the best," he says.

He attended Penn State's Ice Cream Short Course in State College in 1989. The two-week course touched on ice cream mix formulation, butterfat content, sanitation, labeling and more.

So when the Big Dipper Ice Cream store in Boiling Springs was put on the market, the Leos seized the opportunity.

"It all happened so fast," Tom Leo says.

The Leos, who have two children, Max, 4, and Maea, 5 months have been in business now for a month at 101 W. First St., next to the Getty Mart.

Max was so excited about the ice cream store, Kim Leo says. "He thought it was the greatest thing ever."

Tom Leo agrees with his son.

"People are always happy when they come to get ice cream," he says. "I was trying to create a comfortable place where people like to come."

He spends two to four hours each day mixing ice cream in the store. The mix, which comes from Trickling Springs Dairy, is mostly organic. He mixes five gallons at a time and adds his own flavors.

He says he is not afraid to experiment with new flavors and he's open to suggestions. The store's latest flavor is ginger.

Kim Leo's favorite flavor of the moment is cherry vanilla.

"The best part about owning an ice cream store is eating the ice cream," she says. "What would be more fun then an ice cream store?"

Growth planned

The Leos are optimistic about the future. In addition to 18 ice cream flavors, gelati and Italian ice, the Leos plan to add pies and ice cream cakes to the menu.

Tom Leo also would like to start selling ice cream wholesale to other businesses.

Right now the Leos run the business with two other employees a high school student who works part time and an Appalachian Trail hiker stranded in Boiling Springs because of a tooth problem.

The Leos' dream is to grow and hire more help.



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Story Source: Carlisle Sentinel

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kenya; Ice Cream; Business; Entreprenuership

PCOL6829
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By Anonymous (mail.kie.or.ke - 212.49.82.66) on Friday, July 29, 2005 - 8:07 am: Edit Post

There is a need to equip the poor kenyans with entreprenurial skills and simple technolgy,for allevation of povery. They lack motivation and inaduaqate information.Many are making it.


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