By Vanessa Denha Garmo
It all started when the ice man failed to show up one hot summer weekend in 1984. Foad Abbo owned a retail business and he was out of ice during one heat spell. “That just wasn’t acceptable to my grandfather,” said Jacob Abbo from U.S. Ice, Inc. “He said, ‘if they can’t provide good enough service, then I can.’”
That first year in business, U.S. Ice had about 50 customers; the second year, the list grew to 150 customers and then it continued to grow over the course of 33 years. “We truly take pride in the service we provide our customers,” said Saad Abbo, Foad’s son. “We are grateful for our community and how well we work together and we try to pay that forward every day when we come to work.”
Saad Abbo took over the company from his father and his three sons have since joined the team. “It was about customer service back then,” said Saad. “Customer service is still our focus. We are constantly communicating with our customers to find out what they want.”
U.S. Ice went from a small business in Detroit to the largest independent ice distributor in Michigan and a staple business on 8 Mile. “We now have more than 3,000 customers and service 11 different counties in Michigan,” said Jacob. “We’ve completely remodeled and upgraded our facility, from how we manufacture the ice with state-of-the-art robots to our new fleet of trucks.”
They also refaced the entire building and expanded the office space to better accommodate the customers. “We’ve made huge strides as a family run business and we have no intentions of stopping any time soon,” noted Jacob. “We plan to spread to other parts of Michigan such as Lansing, Grand Rapids, and even go south into Toledo. The sky is the limit for us and my brothers and I have every intention of taking this company to the next level so it is just a matter of time before those moves start happening and we couldn’t be more excited.”
The family-owned business has experienced three decades of continued growth. The passion they have for this business stems from the desire to be the best in the business. “The fact that other ice companies from all over the world came to our facility to see what we can do and to learn from us is a great feeling,” said Jacob. “It just shows that all the long hours in the summer really pay off in huge ways and my family and I couldn’t be happier and more thankful.”
Currently, they are capable of manufacturing more than 400 tons of ice a day in their facility in Detroit and distribute ice to more than 3,000 customers in 11 different counties. U.S. Ice supplies their products to several notable events in Metropolitan Detroit including the Grand Prix, the Renaissance Festival, and Arts, Beats, and Eats. They also supply ice to Comerica Park, Joe Louis Arena, and the Palace of Auburn Hills.
They are now looking for a second building. The business continues to grow and the current 400-ton capacity building is not enough space.
The company integrated an ice carving division into the facility which is growing exponentially. “We supplied carvings to Winterblast in Detroit, and even went as far as Petoskey in northern Michigan to supply carvings for the city’s ice festival,” said Jacob. “We only plan on growing more and taking on bigger customers and bigger events as we continue this business.”
No one in the Abbo family takes the success for granted. “I would just like to say that everything we have and everything we’ve worked towards is all a blessing from God,” said Saad. “God has been by our side every step of the way and to be where we are today is the result of his graces and blessings towards us.”