Mark Randall is happy being the ice cream man.
Randall, the owner of Dippin’ Dots at 3328 Washington Road in Le Pavilion shopping center in Augusta, said there was a time when he wasn’t happy. After 14 years at Savannah River Site, he was ready for change.
“I was making good money,” he said. “I was miserable, though. I wanted to be out. I wanted to be involved with the community. I was boxed in for 12 hours at a time.”
That led Randall to purchase Dippin’ Dots in December 2005 with his then-wife, Angela.
“It was different,” he said of the business, which sells “tiny, frozen spheres.”
“No one else was doing it. Ice cream is fun. That is what I wanted,” he said.
It was not Randall’s first experience in the food industry. Shortly after graduating from Jacksonville University, where he studied marketing and management, he returned to the Augusta area and was a district manager for Pepsi for four years.
Randall grew up in New England and moved to the Augusta area at age 12 after his father accepted a managerial position with Montgomery Ward in Regency Mall. He graduated from Westside High School in 1982.
After his stint at SRS, he and his wife had enough capital that they were able to acquire the local Dippin’ Dots franchise and the territory that goes with it. Randall said he has the rights from “Savannah to Hilton Head.”
“Corporate gives us amazing support and has real aggressive marketing programs,” he said. “They also allow us to put our own creative touches at our place.”
He said at one time he served hot dogs and now sells dog treats. Over the years, he had stores in Aiken and south Augusta but is happy just having one shop.
“One store works for me,” he said. “We had others, and I was getting pulled away. I got into this because I wanted to have fun. I can leave my store now and not worry.”
Randall said his business does more than 100 off-site events a year.
“We do high school football games,” he said. “We are at the GreenJackets games. We are at school dances. We work with all sorts of nonprofit organizations, like the American Cancer Society, on fundraisers.”
Randall said his employees are a major reason he has been successful.
“I have good people,” he said. “They are empowered to make decisions. I can leave and the store will run fine. I have people like Erica Hadden and Anna Reeves that have been with me for years. They have fun on their jobs, and the customers enjoy seeing them and getting ice cream. That is what I want.”