State College

State High student starts ice cream truck business to pay for college

State College High School student Ben Gelenberg, at his home in Patton Township on Wednesday, will run his own ice cream truck business this summer.
State College High School student Ben Gelenberg, at his home in Patton Township on Wednesday, will run his own ice cream truck business this summer. CDT photo

The sweet taste of victory can have many different flavors.

There will be plenty to choose from when Ben Gelenberg’s ice cream truck plays its jingle and serves up summer desserts in Patton Township neighborhoods this summer.

Gelenberg, a State High junior, will launch College Fund Ice Cream and Frozen Treats by June 12. He is starting the business to save money for college, likely at Penn State, to study professional golf management or history to become a teacher.

“It’s a cool idea considering my parents started in the same general way of owning rental property,” he said.

His parents Phil and Pene Gelenberg have owned residential rental property for 24 years, which has kept Ben busy since he was 10 years old.

Now, at 17, he feels ready to start his own venture.

“Any time they’ve needed things fixed or furniture moved I’ve helped, and in the summers I’ve helped them on a daily basis,” Ben said. “When my dad came to me with this idea, though, it sounded like something I could do.”

Phil Gelenberg read that other high school students started similar summer businesses around the country. All he needed to get his son started was a van.

He found one this spring that was practically a turn-key operation.

“We found what we needed on Craigslist in March out of Washington D.C.,” Phil Gelenberg said. “The old owners upgraded to a brick and mortar store a few blocks from the White House and didn’t need the truck any more. It was in great condition.”

The lessons have already started.

The Gelenbergs navigated their way through permitting to legalize the business.

“It’s fairly tedious going through the whole process,” Ben said. “If you cross a township line, you can get fined. I don’t know what the fine is, and I don’t want to find out.”

Ben will try different routes in the Park Forest area to begin his business and will change his routes accordingly, figuring out which ones are best to take in different neighborhoods.

“It’s gonna be a lot of fun to watch, and I’m really looking forward to him learning different aspects of being in and running a business,” Phil Gelenberg said. “He’ll have to figure out how to tweak routes, deal with vehicle repairs, learn forecasting, and hopefully he does really well and puts money away for school.”

The new venture, Phil Gelenberg said, is a win-win for his son.

“Worst case scenario he gets this experience and applies what he learns in the future,” he said. “Best case scenario he enjoys it, learns a lot and makes money he can put away for school.”

And don’t forget about the kids who get a cool snack on a sunny day.

It’s a savory win for them, too.

  Comments