Monday, December 31, 2012

We are Alberta's Ice Company | Columbia Ice

Columbia Ice is Alberta's Ice Company because the only place we do business is in Alberta.  If BC called for ice we would say heck no because they don't want our pipeline.  If Saskatchewan called begging for ice... well we would send a reefer full of ice to them because in the busy summer months they send a reefer to us if we are running low.  That said in general, 99.9% of the time all the ice made by Columbia Ice stays in Alberta. In terms of ownership, where the profits go, we are 100% Alberta.
Map of Canada with Alberta highlighted in orange.
Columbia Ice is Alberta's Ice company

When we say Alberta's Ice Company we mean to say we can ship reefers or truckloads of festival ice to anywhere in Alberta.  If you are having a small party in Calgary it really isn't in our everyday delivery range.  

Have I confused you? 

We are Alberta's Ice Company when it comes to ordering a truckload of ice.  When I say truckload I mean a big semi load of ice.  When it comes to needing 15 big bags of party ice, our delivery area shrinks to Edmonton and area because we do not have a factory in Calgary.  Driving 4 hours to deliver 15 bags of ice wouldn't be worth it from a cost perspective.  You could buy a freezer for the price it would take to deliver that ice.  

At Columbia we distribute ice to liquor and gas stations in and around Edmonton.  We ship ice via reefer outside this delivery radius to anywhere in the province.  If someone was willing to pay enough we would even ship ice to the moon.   Sadly this never happens because they don't need ice on the moon.  

For all your ice needs in Alberta call Alberta's Ice company, Columbia Ice.  

The Iceman
Call for ice: 780-960-7161

Follow: @ernieiceman
Review us:  google places

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Monday, December 17, 2012

How is packaged ice packaged?

Although not as exciting as how they put the caramel in a caramel bar, how we put cubed ice into a plastic bag is still very riveting reading material so hold on to your hats and get ready to be blown away.

Last year when we only had a little ice factory, we would hold a bag under a spout, press an electric gas peddle and bam we could get a bag full of ice.  At that point we would then use a closer to put a little metal clip on the end to close the bag, hence the equipment being called a closer.  Next the small bag of packaged ice would be put on a conveyor belt and taken to the poor smuck whose job it was to frantically put 5 small bags of ice into one bigger bag we call a tote without falling behind.  I say poor smuck because making ice this way was like sweating to the oldies if the oldies were the sound of ice being made.
Inside of an Edmonton Ice Factory.
Ice goes from the auger to the bagger.
Our big ice bags come in a big roll.
image of ice bagger.
Our new bagger puts the packaged in packaged ice.

This is where the packaged ice is hiked to the QB.

Lucky for us poor smucks Ernie, the owner of Columbia Ice decided to invest in building a brand new ice factory with an automatic bagger.  This meant there was no holding an empty plastic bag beneath a spout.  In fact this meant no human contact or interaction with the ice during the bagging process.  It meant no more having to close the bags of ice either as the new bagger would heat seal the bags of ice closed.  All we had to do is stand like a quarterback at the end of the bagger and wait for the packaged ice to arrive.  The days of being a poor smuck was over as making packaged ice never was easier, well at least relative to how we would package ice before.  Of course there are still issues because the bigger the machine, the bigger the baby that machines tends to be and our ice bagger is no exception, but that is a story for another day.

If you need ice in Edmonton give Columbia Ice a call.  We are Edmonton's ice company.

The Iceman
Call for ice: 780-960-7161

Follow: @ernieiceman
Review us:  google places

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Friday, December 7, 2012

We deliver ice even in a blizzard. | Columbia Ice

Delivering ice in Edmonton during the winter isn't always easy.  Mother nature has a way of saying hello when you least expect it.  The other day everything looked clear as I, the Iceman, left Edmonton for Redwater to make sure they had enough ice for Christmas cheer.

"Ha, ha," said the man in the sky as he decided to have some fun with me.
ice delivery in the Edmonton winter can be fun

The snow started to fall in big snowflakes making it hard to see.  To make it more fun when a semi would drive by for about 10 meters I couldn't see a thing, but don't worry the Iceman was not afraid.  He did not turn back and cry for mommy even though it might of seemed like the sane things to do considering you could barely see.  The Iceman was like the little train that knew it could.  One wheel in front of another.

On the way I might have passed Gibbons.  Not really sure because it was like living in a little house in the prairie book where you needed to use a rope to get from the house to the barn.  I could not see gibbons, but I assume it was still there to be passed and had not been nuked by some cold war relic of a nuclear missile.

Lucky for the Iceman the snow disappeared when I reached Radway.  One moment there is a blizzard and the next their isn't.  Radway was good, Redwater was not and Gibbons.. well what can you really say about Gibbons other than the diesel at fas gas there pumps really fast which is nice when it is cold.  I did stop at Gibbons on the way back just to make sure it was still there.

For all your packaged ice needs call or email Columbia Ice, Alberta's Ice Company.

The Iceman
Call for ice: 780-960-7161

Follow: @ernieiceman
Review us:  google places

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Why we chose the name Columbia Ice for an ice company?

Expanded Columbia Ice logo.
Columbia Ice, Edmonton's Ice Company
Once upon a time there was a liquor distribution guy and a butcher who became friends.  Together they decided to join forces and build an ice company in Edmonton.   Polar Ice, not the vodka was born.  Sadly for reasons unknown to me the butcher and the liquor guy decided to part ways with the butcher keeping Polar Ice.  The liquor distribution guy, still wanting to be in the ice industry decided to create his own ice company and Columbia Ice was born.  The name Columbia Ice was derived from the popular tourist destination Columbia Icefields between Jasper and Banff.   After running the company for a number of years the liquor guy decided to sell Columbia Ice to Ernie Graveline, a coffee guy who wanted to get into manufacturing and chose ice.  Ernie, seeing that the main ice manufacturer in Canada was struggling with debt issues which resulted in a Canadian company being bought by an American one, decided the time was right for expansion so he built a new ice factory up in Acheson which is just between Edmonton and Spruce Grove.  The idea was to slowly increase the amount of ice supply and work hard to be known as Edmonton's ice company.  Unlike the newly created American ice company, Ernie wasn't interested in conquering the world, just wanted to be the best ice company in Edmonton.  Although it is not the most exciting story, it is our story and how Columbia Ice got its name and came to be.

If you need large or small bags of ice for a party or event just give us a call or send us an email.  We are Edmonton's Ice Company.

The Iceman
Call for ice: 780-960-7161

Follow: @ernieiceman
Review us:  google places

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Does google know your Edmonton liquor store exists?

Monday, May 14, 2012

How to use bagged ice Edmonton in anchor text?

Below what you see is the HTML coding for a hyperlink tag.  The is the link that will get embedded beneath the bagged ice Edmonton text. The link is saying to a browser (firefox, internet explorer, chrome, etc)  that when the user clicks on bagged ice Edmonton with the link embedded beneath the keyword phrase, to open up in place of this blog post.

<a href="">bagged ice Edmonton</a>

If you mouse over the bagged ice Edmonton, your cursor should turn into a hand, indicating there is a link there.  This link when clicked will take the user to the Columbia Ice homepage. 

Google, Bing and other search engines use what they call spiders to search the web.  When these spiders come across a hyperlink tag like you see above, they read the link and the anchor text.  i.e.  bagged ice Edmonton.

The anchor text is then related to the embedded link which in this case is  This tells a search engine that if a user searches for "bagged ice Edmonton"  that one of the possible websites that the user might be looking for could be Columbia Ice's homepage.  In this regard anchor text is a way to contextualize links to search allowing Google to present more relevant results.

If you want more information on anchor text check out this article.

The Iceman
Call for ice: 780-960-7161
Follow: @ernieiceman
Review us:  google places

I recently took up ice sculpting. Last night I made an ice cube. This morning I made 12, I was prolific.
Mitch Hedberg

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Does google know your Edmonton liquor store exists?

Lets say I am staying in a hotel in Edmonton.  Feeling a little jet lagged I decide I would like to get a few cold beers to enjoy while watching the hockey game.  Being the tech suavy individual I am, I open up the laptop and google edmonton liquor store near whatever hotel I am staying at.  Google being google gives me a nice list to look at with a map on the right hand side.
Edmonton liquor store image.
Where is your Edmonton liquor store?

After looking at the map and determining the closest liquor store I grab my room key and away I go.  However on the way to the closest liquor store I find myself walking past one that did not show up in google.  How could this be I say to myself, thinking that every business is in google.  

When I get back I go back to my search results for edmonton liquor store.  Click on the map and look around trying to find where google gets their information.  As shown in the picture below google gets their information from yellowpages.  The problem with this is new businesses might not get into yellowpages until the following year when they put out a new book.  I imagine it is possible to enter your business information online however if your business didn't exist when yellowpages was making their book, it likely won't exist online.

Google uses YellowPages directory.

What is a business to do?  Go to google places and set up your business on google.  That way when some guy like me wants a few beers, he will see your Edmonton liquor store in search.

The Iceman
Call for ice: 780-960-7161

Follow: @ernieiceman
Review us:  google places

Give a man a beer, waste an hour. Teach a man to brew, and waste a lifetime!
Bill Owen
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Does local matter to liquor stores in Edmonton?

When trying to convince liquor stores in Edmonton to sell Columbia Ice's party ice, one of the selling points we use is we are a local business.  The profit we make won't be sent to Winnipeg to pay off antitrust fines like our competition.  Our revenue here at Columbia Ice will be spent on improving our infrastructure.   Sure some of it does go to the US because some stuff like ice merchandisers you can't get in Canada.  However, for the most part we are investing in growing our business in Edmonton, AB, not in the US.  We feel like this is a big distinction.  We at Columbia Ice are only interested in investing in Alberta's economy.

The reason I say comparable prices is because price does matter.  Nobody in Alberta likes the fact the money they spend at Walmart or Target is going to a US corporation.  The only reason most people in Alberta shop at those stores is because you can't beat the prices.  Large international corporations are able to offer consumers lower prices because they purchase products in large amounts.  If there was a local business that could offer the same products at the same prices most people would likely prefer to shop local.  By supporting those who exist in the same geographic area you are helping keep your local economy strong.

The reason I am asking if local matters to liquor stores in Edmonton is because often it seems like it doesn't and it makes no sense to me.  If a local liquor outlet in Edmonton is expecting people to support their local business wouldn't it just make sense to do the same thing back?  I am not even saying they should sell just our ice as there are two local ice companies in Alberta.  Either of the two would make far more sense to me.  As a consumer myself I feel much better knowing that the money I spend stays in Edmonton, helping our city and province stay strong in an increasingly unstable world economically.

That said working for a local business does make me biased so let me pose the question to you.  Does it matter to you that the products you buy are made in Alberta?

The Iceman
Call for ice: 780-960-7161
Follow: @ernieiceman

A local company has more accountability.
Paul Hawken
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Edmonton ice companies brace for summer party season.

picture of me with a hair and beard net.
Beard and hair nets a must at Columbia Ice.
Freezer space in cold storage is starting to fill up as Edmonton ice companies get ready for the summer rush.  Where there is a big outdoor party there is usually a need for ice and like the rest of the ice companies in Edmonton, Columbia Ice is getting ready to party.  When I say party I don't actually mean party because we are driving.  We bring the ice to keep the beer, cocktails and pop cold.  We just don't get to partake in any of the drinking of beverages sadly.  It is the curse of an iceman who works hard in the summer and twiddles his thumbs in the winter.

Supposedly this summer it is going to be hot which will be good for all Edmonton ice companies.  I say supposedly because we can't really predict the weather ahead of time with any real certainty because there are just too many butterflies with wings.  Too many rogue variables that we cannot account for.  That said, if it is hot then it is good for everyone.  More sun, more fun, more drinks and best of all more ice from Columbia Ice.  

Sure you might say there are other ice companies in Edmonton to choose from.  However there are not other ice companies other than Columbia Ice that have me working for them.  

The one industry in Alberta who might not like really hot weather is construction companies.  Party goers love it, construction companies that are working on paving Alberta's bridges and overpasses not so much.  If the weather is hotter than a certain temperature the concrete mixture they are pouring cures too fast causing it to be less strong.  The only solution to slowing down the curing process is to call one of of Edmonton's ice companies and hope they have a spare semi load of ice to reduce the drying process. This might seem like an easy thing to do, however in the peak of summer who has a spare truckload of ice making life fun for the paving company.  

The good news is Columbia Ice is online, on facebook, on twitter, on google + and even in that book they call the yellowpages.  We can't promise we will have a spare semi load of ice if there are a lot of parties going on, but it never hurts to ask.  

The Iceman
Call for ice: 780-960-7161

One does not leave a convivial party before closing time.
Winston Churchill
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Is it water and ice or ice and water?

picture of water going into a glass
ice and water or water and ice?
When you spend most of your day making and delivering ice you start to ponder the deeper questions in life like which comes first the water or the ice?  In terms of how you say it, water and ice seems to flow more naturally, however logic suggest ice should go in first as to not splash the water on you.   Perhaps this is one of those questions like what came first the chicken or the road where there is no answer.  Maybe we better stick to things with actual answers so we don't end spending all our time arguing what came first the ice or the water.

A better question is why do bottled water companies sell ice?  It isn't like those big blue plastic bottles can fit ice in their opening.  Most bottled water machines do not have a port for ice and if they did wouldn't it just make more sense to integrate a machine to make ice on the spot?  Where does the ice in the water and ice fit in?

In terms of Edmonton, AB, generally speaking, the ice part of water and ice is used to keep the water in the big insulated orange drink containers.  These containers are shipped to any large industrial site like a powerplant or factory during what they call a shutdown.  A shutdown is where machinery is repaired or replaced while the plant is offline.  The ice keeps the water cold, so the workers have cold water, so they don't fall down dead from dehydration.

The Iceman
Call for ice: 780-960-7161

Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.
Lao Tzu
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Ice Companies Edmonton | Columbia Ice

There are 3 ice companies in Edmonton.  Polar, Arctic Glacier and Columbia Ice where I work.  Arctic Glacier is the largest as they serve both Canada and the US.  Both Polar and ourselves are more localized, focused on the Edmonton market.  That is not to say Arctic does not serve Edmonton, just they are a large international corporation whereas Columbia Ice and Polar are privately owned Alberta Businesses.

We all sell ice tested for human consumption.  For the most part the type of ice sold, tube ice is used by all three companies.  I should say will be used by all ice companies in Edmonton because in a few weeks once our new plant is up and running we will be making tube ice, at least for most of our production.  The reason this type of ice is more popular than the square ice cubes is the industrial ice machines that make ice in large volume tend to be tube ice.  It also takes a lot less power to make tube ice which is becoming increasingly important in industry these days.  

The only differences that really matters to the ice retailer are: 
1. What is the cost per bag?  
2. Can I get a new, modern ice merchandiser with auto defrost which is a big deal for indoor locations?  
3. If it is Saturday and we run out of ice will you go to work to fill us up?  

These are the type of questions that are important to ask if you are looking at changing your current ice vendor or looking to sell ice for the first time.  I should note that in reference to the ice retailer we are talking about the small bags of party ice.  

In terms of direct to client usually, unless we are talking about large water and ice companies we would be talking about the large bags of party ice.  Again when it comes to large 25 lb bags of party ice for the most part all ice companies are the same.  If you order enough ice we will deliver it.  If you only need a couple of bags we all have partner vendors to pick the ice up from.  Again this is something you will have to call around and find out for yourself.  

I know not really an exciting day in the life of the iceman post.  Today is slow because it got cold again after getting hot.  

The Iceman
Call for ice: 780-960-7161

I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn't know how to get along without it.
Walt Disney

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Delivering Ice to a funeral home is a somber event.

image of a coffin
drive safe
One of the most somber places to deliver ice to is a funeral home.  Not because the ice is used to keep people on ice.  It is actually used to keep drinks cold for guests who are mourning the loss of a loved one.  The somber part is the purpose of the building you are entering.  It is warm, everything is done nice and proper almost like a church and everyone is wearing black.  As a delivery driver you are almost afraid to move because then people will notice the one out of place thing in the building which is you or in this case me.

Usually when you deliver to a place you like to joke with the client.  Build rapport is always vital when it comes to business, as to create client loyalty.  In a funeral home it almost feels wrong, like you are disrespecting the dead or the grief of the living.  Even the person you are interacting with generally has a somber look on their his or here face.  They are always dressed in the traditional funeral wardrobe.

When you work in the ice industry and are around packaged ice all day, you really enjoy the times you get to interact with people.  At a funeral home, it is a little different because for the most part you don't really know what to say or how to act.  All I do is quickly put the ice in the freezer, get the invoice signed and get out of there as quickly as I can.

I can't help but wonder if this is normal.  If all people feel uncomfortable in places where you are reminded of your own mortality.  Maybe that is the normal way to feel and if so it must be very difficult to work at a funeral home.  A good day from a business perspective for them is a bad day for a lot of other people.

The Iceman
Call for ice: 780-960-7161

Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.

Mark Twain

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Packaged Ice Edmonton | who you going to call?

image of an Iceman
Yes, I wear a hair and beard net.
I never heard of Columbia Ice before I started working here.  When I needed packaged ice I just went across the street to 7/11, bought a bag of ice and used it for whatever people use ice for.  For me it usually was to ice some injury I got trying to relive my glory years when I was an athlete.  When I went for a job interview I couldn't even name one ice company in Edmonton.  As long as the ice was clean and still ice I was generally happy.  Things are different now because I work for Columbia Ice, a local ice company which services Edmonton and area.  Instead of going to the store to get a bag of packaged ice I just go to work and take a bag out of the freezer with my bosses permission of course.

I have to use the word "we" now because I am part of something bigger.  When I say bigger I don't mean a giant international corporation.  Ernie, who is the owner really isn't all that interested in being bigger than Edmonton and area when it comes to packaged ice.  He just wants to be great in our small little part of the world and let someone else worry about the rest.  There is enough demand in Edmonton where we really don't need to worry about taking over the world.  It might be fun, but the larger you get, the more little things get missed.  Right now our goal is simply to be the best at what we do, which is deliver packaged, in the confined geographic region of Edmonton, AB, Canada.

We are currently building a new factory which should be finished in a few weeks which will increase our supply of ice while reducing the power it takes to make it. We are hoping that with our increased web presence and on the ground marketing that people will decide to choose to support a local ice company.  From our perspective the advantage of choosing local is the money people spend on Columbia Ice will be put back into the local economy.  When you consider how much of our wealth ends up being siphoned out of Alberta, we believe it is an easy choice to choose us when it comes to Packaged Ice Edmonton.

The Iceman
Call for ice: 780-960-7161

Follow: @ernieiceman
Review us:  google places

Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate. 
Albert Schweitzer 

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