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Ron Rice, Suntan King

Ron Rice, Suntan King

The first hour featured the second in our ongoing series Great American Success Stories with Ron Rice (pictured), the founder and former owner of the sun care product manufacturer Hawaiian Tropic.

Rice said he grew up in a log cabin in the mountains of North Carolina, where as a kid he ran a roadside stand selling apples, walnuts, honey, Christmas wreaths, and whatever else he could sell. He went on to graduate from the University of Tennessee and then worked as a chemistry teacher and football coach in Florida for $4,300/year.

While working as a lifeguard, Rice got the idea to create what would become Hawaiian Tropic sun tan lotion. He said he mixed his exotic concoction of oils in a 20-gal garbage can, using a cut off broom stick to stir his homemade brew. Rice began selling his product in the mid-60s and within seven years had sold a million dollars worth. He eventurally built Hawaiian Tropic into a company with more than $200 million/year in sales and recently sold it to Playtex.

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