William Nozak wasn't born or raised a Sandite, and before 2014 he didn't have any ties to the Sand Springs area. A graduate of Victory Christian Center and Oral Roberts University, Nozak dabbled in a number of fields before ending up in shaved ice. To an outsider, there's no apparent reason why he wound up in Sand Springs.
With a Masters in Business Administration, Nozak taught at Tulsa Community College, Platt College, Career Point College, and Kaplan University before serving four years as the Director of Education at the American Institute of Medical Technology. He self-produced three albums, owned a disc golf store, and owned three Oxi Fresh franchises in Northern California.
So how does a singing professor with really clean carpet end up running a snow cone stand in Sand Springs? He cites the Holy Spirit as his influence.
Of course, as an experienced entrepreneur, he did his homework. "I had a war report on my wall of every snow cone stand in Tulsa. I didn't want to go to an area already being served," says Nozak. But despite having lease opportunities in growing cities like Owasso and Broken Arrow, where he was living at the time, he still found himself opening shop in Sand Springs just a mile and a half down the road from an established competitor with a decade of experience.
Within a month of opening, Harper's Hut Shaved Ice was voted the "Best in the World" by readers of the Tulsa World. Since then, his business has expanded to Mannford and Glenpool and he has opened successful coffee and marketing businesses as well.
Despite having two little ones to take care of, Nozak still finds plenty of time and resources to give back to the community that has supported his businesses these past three years.
Every year, the Hut hosts a Summer Kickoff, a Summer Block Party, and a Classic Car Show. All three are free and open to the public. Both the Summer Kickoff and the Block Party feature inflatable jump houses, obstacle courses, games, toys, prizes, face painting, food, and, of course, snow cones.
The Hut isn't just a snow cone stand to Sand Springs, it's a neighbor. It's a family member. It's everywhere. It can be found at Sandite football games, at Chillin & Grillin Festival, at Herbal Affair, in the River City Parks concession stand, in Terry's Classic Coneys.
You can have the Hut at your birthday, or have your birthday at the Hut. They cater weddings and other celebrations. They have ice chests full of flavored snow that you can order, they do snow ball fights for Church that Matters and other organizations, and they do free summer movie nights on their inflatable big screen.
Most importantly, they've been a valuable contributor to the Sand Springs community these past three years and they have even bigger plans on the horizon for the town that they've adopted. Since opening their doors three years ago, the Hut has raised more than $25,000 for local charities, schools, and other organizations.
Harper's Hut makes their values clear in their mission statement, "to improve our communities by providing affordable desserts, family-fun events, and by supporting non-profit organizations promoting family, and Christian values."
This Saturday is the 2017 Summer Kickoff, and once again Harper's Hut is putting their money where their mouth is. This year 100% of sales will be donated to James Mission, a Tulsa charity that benefits foster children, orphans, widows, and displaced families. As always, the event will be filled with free festivities like inflatables, games, face painting, music, and giveaways.