RON RICE Hawaiian Tropic's Suntan King by Kaya Morgan
Without a doubt, Ron Rice is the stuff that American dreams are made of. Not unlike our country's forefathers, Ron began his early days in a log cabin high in the mountains of North Carolina. A born entrepreneur, by age 5, he would stand at the foot of his family-owned mountain, at his own roadside stand, selling apples, grapes, nuts, honey, apple cider, and wreaths at Christmas to help make ends meet.
Wanting to pursue a career in education, Rice headed for the University of Tennessee where during summer breaks, he worked as a Florida lifeguard to help pay his tuition. Loving the warm climate and beach lifestyle, and with a Bachelor of Science Degree under his arm, he landed a job as a chemistry teacher and football coach at a Florida high school earning under $5,000 a year.
While on a free vacation to Hawaii, he noticed many of the local women using natural oils to protect their skin from the sun. Having looked in vain for a product that would shield his own fair skin from the sun, Rice became determined to create a product that would allow him and others to achieve a golden tan like the native Hawaiians.
Ron's father, being his greatest mentor, had instilled in him the basic American values that he still lives by today honesty, fair play, tough competition, and lots of hard work. So, when it came time to follow his dream, dad loaned him the $500.00 he used to set up business in his garage. Having a chemistry background, Ron tried countless combinations of coconut, avacado, kukui and other natural oils that he mixed in garbage cans until he found just the right formula.
Hitting the road to sell his new creation, Ron recalls, "I had an old ford Mustang convertible that the salt air had just eaten apart. I drove to pool decks and lifeguard stands selling the original suntan product. I was obsessed." Quite coincidentally, his first sale was made the same day America launched the first moon mission on July 16, 1969, and the die was cast. His new tanning product caught on immediately. No one had ever heard of a natural tanning formula before! Not only did it help protect the skin from damaging rays, pioneering the use of Aloe Vera nature's greatest healer but it also produced a beautiful golden look.
To help build a loyal and committed sales team, Rice turned to his old teaching, lifeguard and football buddies. He sent this unusual team throughout the country, and the world, building Hawaiian Tropic into a strong brand name. Utilizing his understanding of the universal attraction of the beach party experience, he developed the Miss Hawaiian Tropic Pageant, drawing a spectacular array of beautiful bikini-clad women from all over the globe, and attracting Hollywood's top personalities to judge the events. Soon the combination was an unprecedented success, world-renowned for exceptional sun care products, gorgeous women and a large celebrity following.
Rice continues as the driving force behind the development, marketing, and promotion of new Hawaiian Tropic products. He has been known to get an idea at 4:00 a.m., waking up members of his team with excitement and passion over a new addition to the product line. But he also knows how to mix hard work with fun. Rice now travels over 250 days a year promoting the Hawaiian Tropic brand at various celebrity charity events, auto races, film festivals and through the Miss Hawaiian Tropic International Pageants.
Feeling quite lucky in life, all the success and fame has not gone to his head. "My biggest peeve is people who become successful and forget their roots," he says. Happily, Ron shares his success with the love of his life, daughter Sterling. With already over 30 film and television appearances to her credit, Ron firmly predicts that, "Someday, like the name Madonna, there will just be Sterling." When the two aren't traveling, they spend leisure time at their multi-million dollar, oceanfront estate in Daytona Beach the city where Hawaiian Tropic began or at their Malibu oceanfront villa.
The palatial Daytona estate took five years to build and sits just a few feet from where Ron's lifeguard tower once stood. The original garbage can used to mix his first batch of suntan product is now silver-plated and stands in the living room as a testament to Hawaiian Tropic's early days, and serves as a constant reminder of the tireless hard work and determination it took to realize his dream. In memory of his father, Ron had the home built with granite rock trucked down from the mountains of North Carolina. "The happiest day of my life was when I was able to pay my father back the $500.00 he loaned me, and thank him for believing in me."
Today, almost 35 years after its inception, Hawaiian Tropic is sold worldwide in over 150 countries, dominating the U.S and Canadian markets with over 125 products, ranking #1 on the Riviera, Caribbean, Mexican and South American beaches. It is the only international sun care brand owned by a privately held company.
To read more updates on Ron Rice click on Hawaiian Tropic.
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