JENKINS TWP. — “Uh oh, better get Qik Joe!”
That was the slogan for Qik Joe ice melt, a product of Milazzo Industries, for many years. The ice melt product has been so successful, it is now sold in hardware stores, grocery stores, pharmacy chains, janitorial services and everywhere in between in snow belt states all over the country.
The Milazzo name has been associated with Greater Pittston for 90 years, going back to the days when Carmen Milazzo sold fruits and vegetables on carts driven by horses.
Carmen’s son, Joe, continued on but, instead of carting food, he began to sell bagged coal. With the success of selling coal, Joe created a coal-bagging plant here.
When automobiles started to become plentiful on the streets, Joe opened several gas stations in Luzerne County. His entrepreneurial skills were beginning to peak.
During the 1940s, the Milazzo family opened a large hardware store in Pittston and remained in business until 1970.
Around 1950, Joe invented Instant Light Charcoal briquets — charcoal that does not need lighter fluid to burn.
After the death of Joe, his son Sam took over and began mass-producing the Instant Light Charcoal, a product that become a true retail market item and a hit with consumers.
Sam also introduced another new product, a product that would put Milazzo Industries on the map — an ice melt agent much safer for the environment called Qik Joe Ice Melt.
Today, fourth-generation family member Joe Milazzo, great-grandson of Carmen, has been running Milazzo Industries since his father Sam passed away in 2004.
Throughout the decades, competition wasn’t so much an enemy of Milazzo Industries; Mother Nature was.
Two floods, the 1972 Agnes Flood and 2011 Tropical Storm Lee, were huge obstacles that nearly ended the company on River Road. A fire in 1984 was catastrophic, as well but the family persevered, getting back on its feet within a year.
Millions of dollars were lost as a result of Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. But once again, the family dug deep and, in less than three months, the business was fully operational.
“It was a struggle (to get back in business) and we credit the loyalty and dedication of our employees, many of which have been with us for over 20 years, that got us up and running,” Joe Milazzo said.
Milazzo Industries now has a dozen products under the ice melt division used for various situations.
“It’s (Qik Joe) always been our flagship item and we’ve expanded the ice melting business to include many different types of products, not just Qik Joe,” Milazzo said. “We have sodium chloride and potassium chloride and blends now.”
In addition to ice melt products and charcoal and coal products, Milazzo Industries began selling mulch that can be purchased at the Jenkins Twp. property.
“Milazzo Industries will continue its research and development in new products and corresponding product lines,” Milazzo said. “We have a very high regard for quality.”
The company strives to continue on by living the Milazzo motto: “Focusing on the needs of today, with an eye on tomorrow.”
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