He pours the ice in the machine.
He carefully packs the shaved pieces in a cup.
He paints the snow stack a bright blue as a breeze carries a fragrant waft of coconut to the kids in line.
He scoops on a perfectly rounded top and soaks it with flavor, leaving no crushed ice uncovered.
He adds a spoon and bendy straw then turns around and smiles.
“That’ll be $3,” he says with a smile as he hands his customer their perfect sno cone.
Xavier Rodriguez may only be 16 years old, but he’s been running his own business for four years now and knows how to make his customers happy.
“I try to make it quick, so it doesn’t melt,” he said. “I don’t want them to wait long either. The best part of having my own business is making sno cones for everyone. It makes them happy.”
Xavier is a sophomore at Runge High School and a member of the baseball team.
He said sometimes house chores, schoolwork and practice makes it hard to open up shop, but it’s even harder for him to turn away customers.
“I don’t get tired of it because it’s fun,” he said. “I’ve learned responsibility and how to manage money. I think it also teaches me how to interact with people.”
Xavier’s parents, Maracella and Joseph, encouraged him to earn his own money to help him learn the value of a dollar and hard work.
“He doesn’t get an allowance,” chuckled Joseph. “He has to work for it. He’s learning work ethic and that if you want something in this life, you need to earn it. Nothing is given to you.”
His parents are proud of their eldest of four children and admit that he takes care of everything on his own.
“We had him when we were 15 years old,” said Marcella. “We wanted to raise him right because things aren’t easy in life. He’s learned how important it is to do a good job because of word of mouth, too.”
Xavier’s reputation has been building throughout Runge and Karnes County. He is most surprised when oilfield workers come and say they heard about his snacks through other workers.
Xavier saves all the money he earns, which depends substantially on the weather.
“On a good day he can bring in $60 to $80,” said Joseph. “If it’s a super, hot day, he’ll have a huge line. Sometimes people give him big tips. They really support him.”
Xavier and his parents get the variety of sno cone flavors from Skip’s in Victoria, which often donates flavors to help him build his business.
Other locals have donated a custom wreath with his logo, banners, T-shirts and even business cards which Xavier has turned into a rewards program- offering a free jumbo sno cone after 10 purchases.
“I try to come at least once every two weeks,” said Adolfo Garza Jr., who held multiple sno cones. “I think it’s great what he’s doing out here and I want to support him.”
Xavier was able to pay for half of his first vehicle while he works on getting his driver’s license and considers taking his business mobile.
Mostly he uses his money on supplies for school, clothes and shoes. He said the money also helps with sports equipment if he needs something for the season.
“It feels good to be able to buy my own things,” he said. “I’ll probably keep doing this until I graduate and keep saving for college.”
Xavier said he wants to be a paramedic and help people in emergencies and feels the business is helping his skills to stay focused.
Xavier has created house specials such as the Bart Simpson and Toxic Waste and the popular Hulk order which he explains is a pickle sno cone with half a pickle in the middle covered in Lucas, green pickle powder and green chamoy and a pickle ball.