PARRISH -- Since opening Ice Pro seven years ago on a 85-acre farm in Parrish, Joe and Lianne Rimer have gotten their creative ice sculptures into local homes and businesses as well as some of the best places around the United States and the Caribbean.
Everything from 350 ice beer mugs for an Oktoberfest in Dallas to 1,000 swan sorbet cups in Kentucky and a 25-foot-tall beer bottle for Johnny Appleseed Hard Apple Cider at a party in Boston.
Now Ice Pro is working on one of its biggest projects yet, an ice bar complete with walls, which is heading to Grand Cayman in the Caribbean.
Ice Pro, joined by other ice-sculpting companies in Philadelphia and Minnesota, is crafting the components for the walled ice bar, which will be trucked to Miami, shipped to Grand Cayman and assembled on the island.
This week, Joe Rimer and his staff were freezing huge blocks of water ranging from 320 pounds to nearly 600 pounds. Each included decorative elements, such as shells, fish or lobster to add beauty and interest to the ice-bar experience.
"We are moving around 300 pounds of ice constantly. None of us at my age has a good back anymore," he said.
Ice Pro will be shipping 96,000 pounds of ice to Grand Cayman, Joe Rimer said.
"The ice bar will be located at the port where cruise ships let out," he said.
Joe Rimer grew up in West Bradenton and is a graduate of Bayshore High School. He said he always knew, even as a child, he wanted to be a chef. He was trained as a chef at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., where he got his first experience with ice sculpture.
His career would eventually take him to chef jobs in Miami, St. Thomas, the Virgin Islands and Memphis, Tenn.
At first, the ice sculptures were a sideline. His first ice sculpture was for a Future Farmers of America banquet 32 years ago.
When Rimer moved back to Bradenton, he, his wife, Lianne, and his father, Fred Rimer, decided to get into the ice-sculpture business full-time.
It was at the start of the recent Great Recession and Joe Rimer admits the timing was challenging, but the business grew and he now has a staff of eight. He credits his crew with much of Ice Pro's success.
While the big jobs and travel to exotic places, including Fairbanks, Alaska, and the Super Bowl in New Orleans, make the job interesting, they are no more important than Ice Pro's customers in Bradenton-Sarasota, Orlando or the Tampa Bay area, he said.
"We don't accept a big job without making sure our regular customers are taking care of," he said.
Among those local jobs are ice sculptures for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, grand openings and corporate functions.
"We do not treat one customer differently than another," Lianne Rimer said. "We take pride in all the work that we do." Joe Rimer provides the creative skills in producing the sculptures, while Lianne Rimer provides business-side management, design work and sales expertise. Fred Rimer provides the mechanical genius to operate and maintain the ice plant.
"He is our refrigeration guy and also our electrical guru," Joe Rimer said of his dad. "It helps to make us a lot more efficient and flexible."
"It's a team effort. We have eight employees and we wouldn't be what we are without them. They all put major energy into it."
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.