When Mike Herbert created his all-natural, high-quality strawberry daiquiri and piña colada mixes in 1984, he targeted bars and restaurants as the venues most likely to want his product. The line quickly expanded beyond strawberry and piña colada, and today Island Oasis has 18 frozen flavors, including non-fat yogurt and ice cream, as well as an aseptic (shelf-stable) line of flavors. The company also has customers in a wide variety of food channels, ranging from colleges, universities and hospitals to leaders in the QSR segment.
The business that had started with premium drink mixes soon grew also to offer the equipment needed to blend beverages. “Mike noticed that some of the bars and restaurants didn’t have the right equipment to make a consistent smoothie-type drink,” President Tony Battaglia explains. “He then went out and invented and patented the first shaver blender.” With that, Herbert was able to provide his clients not only the product, but also the equipment they needed to prepare it.
“Island Oasis was the first company to provide a turnkey frozen beverage solution for the foodservice industry,” Battaglia claims. “We supply not only the product; we also provide the equipment, customized sales support and services related to maintenance of the equipment.” Today, Island Oasis has a customer base of more than 20,000 clients in 15 countries.
Beyond Frozen Cocktails
Island Oasis has been able to grow and expand thanks to the foresight of an owner who understood the flexibility of his products. “When Mike Herbert started the company, frozen fruit mixes were specifically distributed to bars and restaurants to make alcoholic drinks – margaritas, daiquiris, piña coladas,” Battaglia explains. “Over time, the use of fruit and dairy mixes has evolved into making smoothies and other non-alcoholic drinks.”
Far from the bars where they made their debut nearly 30 years ago, Island Oasis smoothies today can be found in hospitals, gyms and colleges. “When you think of colleges and universities, for example, you are looking at a demographic that is always busy, on the run; maybe they don’t have time to eat a complete meal,” Battaglia explains. “Our smoothies work well with protein powder, so the university can easily expand its beverage program to include not only fruit smoothies, but protein smoothies as a meal replacement option.”
The versatility and flexibility of its products have enabled Island Oasis to form a number of successful partnerships with flagship quick-service restaurants in the past five years. Island Oasis has worked hand in hand with the research and development teams of several industry leaders to create their proprietary frappés, real fruit smoothies, and energy drinks.
Outside of quick-service restaurants, Island Oasis collaborates with Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Applebee’s, among many others. “We have a variety of customers, from casual dining to cruise ships, hotels, resorts, etc.,” Battaglia says. “They come to us because they know that we have the best products with the best-quality ingredients, as well as the best beverage solutions in the industry.
To sustain its growth potential, Island Oasis last year changed from direct distribution to a broad-line distribution model. “We decided to adapt our [distribution] model to our needs and we’ve partnered with Sysco and US Foods just to name a couple of distributors,” Battaglia explains. “We sell to them and they service our client base. We still provide our equipment to the customer and have direct contact with those customers. We want to make sure that the beverage programs in place are going well from both a product and equipment standpoint.”
Battaglia expects the new distribution system to translate into better service for the client and also increase the brand’s visibility. “When you go with broad-line distributors, they have more feet on the street than we do so they can reach more customers than we traditionally could with just our own sales force,” he says.
Island Oasis is heading the frozen drink market segment from a position of leadership. The company’s innovative production facilities are designed to integrate the highest packaging design and materials to guarantee food safety and preserve the flavor of freshly picked fruit. Island Oasis facilities in Buffalo, N.Y., and Byersville, Ohio, are both accredited Global Food Safety plants by the British Retail Consortium, a certification used by more than 17,000 suppliers in 90 countries to facilitate standardization of quality and safety.
Its turnkey beverage program, state-of-the-art mixing equipment and top-of-the-line ingredients has made Island Oasis the premium choice for restaurants, bars, cruise ships, coffee shops and fitness centers.