Tromo troopers

%22Their+skin+drips+with+sweat+and+their+hands+are+stained+with+colorful%2C+sticky+syrup.+Yet%2C+at+the+end+of+the+day%2C+these+Tropical+Moose+employees+said+they+couldn%E2%80%99t+be+happier.%22
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Tromo troopers

"Their skin drips with sweat and their hands are stained with colorful, sticky syrup. Yet, at the end of the day, these Tropical Moose employees said they couldn’t be happier."

Grace Klebe

"Their skin drips with sweat and their hands are stained with colorful, sticky syrup. Yet, at the end of the day, these Tropical Moose employees said they couldn’t be happier."

Grace Klebe

Grace Klebe

"Their skin drips with sweat and their hands are stained with colorful, sticky syrup. Yet, at the end of the day, these Tropical Moose employees said they couldn’t be happier."

Their feet ache from standing all day. Their noses detect the scent of liquid sugar in the air. Their hair is littered with Pop Rocks and sprinkles. Their skin drips with sweat and their hands are stained with colorful, sticky syrup. Yet, at the end of the day, these Tropical Moose employees said they couldn’t be happier.

Many Kirkwood residents know Tropical Moose (TroMo) for its trademarks: shaved ice, the mysterious Monkey Snot flavor and friendly, heart-warming smiles. Though friendly service is often an important factor for consumers, it is even more important to Tropical Moose owners Pat and Jack Williams.

“I get compliments all the time on how nice our staff is and how wonderful they are,” Jack said. “I make sure I tell them that we get those kinds of compliments, so they see it’s appreciated by everybody.”

To ensure their young staff is top tier, the Williams’ hire based on connections. Their policy requires applicants to be recommended by a current employee or their family. Matthew Hartmann, senior, is working his third summer at Tropical Moose after his sister’s friend recommended him. Hartmann said he likes the exclusive factor and that it helps the team get to know and trust one another.

“Everybody knows someone or knows the owners,” Hartmann said. “Everyone knows that it’s hard to get a job there, so it’s kind of like a big family, which is a good thing.”

After finding trustworthy employees, Tropical Moose tends to use them for the next few summers. Hiring mostly from KHS and surrounding high schools, the Williams’ attempt to rehire their workers all the way through high school and the first years of college. Jack said it creates an efficient training system, and helps build bonds with employees.

“When you come back each year, these skills get embedded in your work ethic,” Jack said. “You see the results from more than just one summer. It pays off with your friends, with your employer [and] your community.”

The difference between Tropical Moose and other jobs is even apparent to brand new workers. Sam Klinger, senior, joined the staff in May and said he has already noticed the fun, knitted atmosphere. He acreddits this to the Williams’ hiring process and said it helped him get introduced quickly.

“It’s about having a friendly staff and being able to work together well,” Klinger said. “You get to grow pretty close to [the staff] and the bosses.”

Though Tropical Moose’s employees leave a significant impact on their customers, the company affects its workers even more, according to Klinger and Hartmann. Jack said their loyal hiring system is centered around building relationships with their student workers and preparing them for the future. Klinger and Hartmann both think the working environment makes Tropical Moose an excellent first high school job.

“I would definitely recommend it [to another high school student],” Hartmann said. “[The staff] is dedicated, we work hard. We also spend a lot of time having fun, playing games. It’s the best, most memorable job I’ll have. It doesn’t get much better than this.”

Though staff members claim Tropical Moose’s selective hiring system is memorable for their first job, it also affects the service quality for customers. Several Kirkwood residents recognize the snow cone stands for good service and memories, including KHS parent Gretchen Harris.

“I remember taking my elementary age kids there as a celebration on the last day of school,” Harris said. “I think there’s some nostalgia [at Tropical Moose] from making memories for the kids.”

The Williams’ said pleasing their employees and community has always been a top priority for them. They hope to continue serving Kirkwood for as long as they have business here.

“We feel really privileged to be in Kirkwood, to be part of the community,” Jack said. “After all these years, to feel this welcome, not many people get to experience that, and we feel lucky that we do.”