Ron Rice, the late founder of Hawaiian Tropic, built a sunscreen empire. The Florida mansion where he hosted celebrity parties is now on the market for $5.99 million.
Rice purchased the one-acre property in May 1983 for $360,000, property records To display.
He lived in the house for nearly 40 years until his death in May, SEO Realty Pros Assured agent Bill Navarra told Insider. Rice was 81 when he died, according to his New York Times obituary.
“There’s a structure to the north that was built in the ’60s and he bought both lots,” Navarra said of the property. “And then in 1985 he built the additional main living quarters.”
The estate was completed in 1987, according to the listing. This is the first time the house has been put on the market.
Homes in Ormond Beach have a median price of $440,000, according to data from the real estate platform real estate agent.com. There are currently 448 single-family homes for sale, with prices ranging from $107,000 to $5.99 million, making Rice’s estate the most expensive listing in the area.
Rice’s estate did not immediately respond to Insider’s interview request, sent through the listing agent.
Rice grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, far from the sea and sandy beaches associated with her brand.
After graduating from college, Rice became a high school chemistry teacher, coached soccer and worked as a lifeguard on the side, according to The New York Times.
It was during one of his lifesaving shifts that he had the revelation that he was creating a product that could rival suntan lotion giant Coppertone, for The Washington Post. In a trash can in his garage, Rice mixed a combination of oils until he found the formula that would eventually become Hawaiian Tropic Sun Lotion.
In 2006, Hawaiian Tropic became the world’s second-largest sunscreen company with $110 million in revenue, according to The New York Times. A year later, Rice sold her company for $83 million.
Rice filled her home with life-size animal sculptures, framed photos of beauty pageant contestants and eclectic furniture.
“He traveled all over the world and received lots of gifts from different people he met throughout his life,” Navarra said. “He wanted to enjoy it every day.”
Among the items Rice kept in her living room was the trash can that started it all, according to The New York Times. Only now he had plated it in silver.
These items are not included in the sale of the home, Navarra said.
Part of Hawaiian Tropic’s success can be attributed to Rice’s guerrilla marketing tactics, which included hosting beauty contests, sponsoring race car drivers, and securing product placements in Hollywood films.
Rice hosted the annual Miss Hawaiian Tropic pageants from 1983 to 2010, with celebrity judges including former US President Donald Trump – who met his second wife Marla Maples when she was a contestant, according to The New York Times.
Recounting her first contest, Rice said Knoxville News Sentinel that “it was magic”.
“I had unlimited girls…beautiful girls…who wanted to be one of our Hawaiian Tropic models,” Rice said. “I had to choose, and they threw themselves at my feet to be one of our role models.”
Rice’s other marketing stunts included brand plating on a Porsche 935 that Paul Newman drove at Le Mans 1979 and on a No. 1 Hawaiian Tropic Oldsmobile that race car driver Donnie Allison wrecked at the 1979 Daytona 500.
“We were making money in spades,” Rice told the Knoxville News Sentinel in 2020. “We didn’t know what to do with it.”
Rice’s mansion was designed for entertaining, and the founder put it to work.
The indoor pool is flanked by two angel statues and is connected to an outdoor pool so guests can swim in and out, Navarra said.
Names on Rice’s party guest list included celebrities and professional athletes of the day, such as OJ Simpson, Joe Pesci and Jerry Lee Lewis, per The Daytona Beach Newspaper.
There are four bedrooms in the house. The master suite offers 180 degree ocean views.
“I became friends with him over the years of selling real estate with him,” Navarra said of Rice. “He had such unique styles of doing business.”
There was one occasion when the business mogul struggled to find a local surf shop to sell his wares, Navarra said, recounting a story Rice once told him.
“He sent several of his models there, and they all came in and asked for the same product,” Navarra said.
Rice ended up making a deal with the store owner, Navarra added: “And Ron said, from that point on, it became one of his best-selling surf shops in Daytona Beach. .”