Celebrating 18 years of success with the Chiller Box team
This month (June 2022), Chiller Box will celebrate its 18th birthday. This milestone is usually regarded as a ‘coming of age’ and that’s the case for this exciting London brand offering catering design solutions. The business saw huge changes during its infancy and then again more recently as they have had to quickly adapt to manage the challenges that have come with Brexit and the pandemic.
A brand was born
Chiller Box was founded by Marios Poumpouris and Michael Michael who both have a deep-rooted passion for the business and the industry. Originally, Marios wanted to set up his own restaurant concept and trawled the trade shows to get as much support as possible from suppliers. However, it was during this time that he felt that there wasn’t much support out there for people like him who wanted to get a new hospitality venture off the ground. Michael was already working in refrigeration and the two of them teamed up to help other hospitality businesses. With just one single advert in an industry magazine, Chiller Box was launched.
The name and personality evolve
The original aim was to focus on refrigeration and so they used a strapline ‘Keeping you cool’ and included three snowflakes in the logo design. But the demand for other kitchen equipment was huge, as well as the need for full kitchen design. The business quickly evolved to meet these needs. On today’s logo you will see a drop of water and flame alongside one of the original snowflakes to represent the different types of equipment and support the Chiller Box team offer. Catering Design Solutions is the current strapline and a few years ago the logo was changed to ChillerBox.com to show the growth and maturity of the business in the digital era.
Taking those first baby steps
The first ever Chiller Box customer was from a new Turkish restaurant in De Beauvoir Town called Bavo. Owner, Mario Kurt wanted help creating his cold room and needed some commercial fridges. He had seen that all important first Chiller Box advert and called for more information. Whilst the original restaurant no longer exists, Mario is still a client today and has other food wholesale and retail businesses which Chiller Box have also worked on. It isn’t unusual for the team to have long-standing clients as the majority of their work comes from returning customers or referrals which Marios and Michael admit is one of their biggest achievements.
Reflecting on early memories
As part of the birthday celebrations, Marios told us about some of the most memorable projects they’ve worked on. Whilst there have been many over the last 18 years, three stand out for different reasons. In terms of scale, they loved working on a project for Barworks at Mare Street Market. This was an exciting new concept, and they created the design and build of the kitchen, bar and coffee roasting area as well as installing the ventilation system.
Marios also fondly talks about the time they worked on Boopshi’s Restaurant in London’s Fitzrocvia which had a kitchen on the first floor. Getting equipment up into the kitchen was a huge challenge, so much so they had to hire a crane at 5.30am in the morning and lift equipment through the window.
One of the most rewarding projects is the work they did for Anchor House. This is a homeless hostel charity and Chiller Box provided a full turnkey service to convert an empty shell into a fully functional residents’ kitchen. Works included partitions and hygienic finishes; new services throughout; as well as all equipment, ventilation, air conditioning and specialist cabinetry.
Developing the business
Over the years’ the team has also seen a change in its client base. Originally it tended to support independent high street cafes and restaurants but now has customers in education, care, business and industry, contract catering, bars and restaurants as well as growing chains such as Neat Burger.
As they have matured as a business, Chiller Box is now very much regarded as a boutique supplier. Despite the demands, they remain a small business enabling them to continue to offer a quality service. Every client is looked after by one of the business owners who are very hands on; sometimes both directors will be involved in a project. They pride themselves on being able to have honest conversations with clients to make sure the designs work effectively.
Looking to the future
Many businesses have struggled during the pandemic, but Chiller Box has come out the other side thriving. Marios said “We always keep a close eye on the marketplace and move accordingly and because we are a small business, we are able to adapt quickly. For example, in the 2008 recession we noticed that coffee shops were popping up everywhere and so we focused our marketing efforts in this area and picked up a lot of work. At the start of the pandemic, we took a fresh approach to our marketing and worked hard to market our way through the challenges. We are constantly looking for new ways to talk to our customers and potential customers and create awareness of Chiller Box.”
Chiller Box have won many awards over the last 18 years, and this includes Marios winning an Institute of Directors Award along the way. The team enter awards not only to give their work that rubber stamp of approval but to show appreciation to their staff and boost morale. On special occasions like an 18th birthday, it’s great for them to be able to look back and reflect on their successes. Throughout June, the team are going to be sharing videos on social media and looking back on their impressive journey. Follow @ChillerBox on Twitter, @ChillerBoxUK on Instagram and TikTok and like the company pages on Facebook and LinkedIn.