Cool under pressure
Andrew & Lauren Wade are a brother/sister combo who started Chill Mobile Cool Rooms at the young ages of 19 & 23 in the year 2000. When most were worried about Y2K, they had big dreams of using a couple of second hand mobile fridge trailers to revolutionise the way people store & serve temperature controlled products.
They lacked funds and had several other part time jobs but convinced the bank they would make it work despite the first two applications being knocked back.
Their first loan allowed them to buy a few mobile coolroom trailers. They then grew the rental fleet three-fold by reinvesting almost everything they made in the first 5 years. They focused intensely on local geographical scope and building a customer base being the first company in the industry with an online presence.
There came a point where they were ready to sell the business as it wasn’t big enough to support their growing and changing life needs and wants. However, one phone call and request changed everything. A National advertising agency representing a global FMCG brand called seeking assistance with a Product Sampling job they had just won. They required refrigerated transport and cold storage services in Sydney and Melbourne. “We didn’t have facilities or refrigerated vehicles at that point in time. But we had developed and nurtured many relationships over the years of people that did”. So, with a healthy dose of ambition, 20 something year old confidence, a combination of under promise and over deliver they went about securing and managing the project very closely through the use of subcontractors and, without a shadow of doubt in themselves, they delivered. A new vision, purpose and path was mapped. It was sheer determination, & integrity to find a solution that equipped Chill to grow into the national service that it is today. Andrew and Lauren now own and operate 4 cold warehouse and distribution sites across Australia, 50 vehicles, over 350 pieces of rental equipment (including mobile fridge trailers and freezers) and manufacture in-house a range of co- branded Mercedes Benz refrigerated vehicles. All this infrastructure supports what they are today in 2017, as a leading company in their industry for refrigerated and frozen logistics, serving the FMCG, pharma, manufacturing and distributions channels nationally.
Their toughest challenge
One major learning was a result of one of greatest strengths that was quickly becoming one of our weaknesses. Subcontractors were a great way to build and grow the business but we were quickly learning we couldn’t control and manage them like we could employees. It’s a hugely capital and asset intensive business and industry. While we were relentlessly building our foundation and reputation based on blood sweat and tears, we went to almost any level to ensure our clients got smooth, efficient and beautiful service. But behind the scenes we had a couple of very tough situations we had to deal with. This involved subcontractors not looking up to or conducting themselves to the standard we expected.
But that was somewhat insignificant compared to the worst and most embarrassing event in Chills 17-year history that we can remember. We always partnered with the best subcontractors we could find. It allowed us to offer the best service and reliability. In the case of our cold storage partner at the time, one of the biggest in the world we felt confident they had the capacity and systems to do what we were paying them to do. In this instance keeping tens of thousands of ice creams cold. They put them into a trailer for a period of time and forgot to fill the trailer up with fuel. They realised they had a problem when the ice cream started running out the back door. It was at this point you immediately need to sit down and make a few calls…. Client, lawyer, insurance provider. I can’t remember which order we did that in but it was not a good day and not a good memory. We worked so hard to build a reputation that was tarnished by the lack of care and concern by others. The lesson we learnt here was if we are going to make a mark in this space we need to be in control of all our own vehicles and facilities and ultimately give a service that is remarkable, honest and memorable.
We have spent 17 years building the business evolving and refining what we do to ensure we stay ahead of the game. The last 1-2 years have seen significant investment in shoring up our base ready for the next wave of expansion. This has been investing in IT, people training and development, assets and capability. We are getting ready to raise some capital to facilitate a solid growth phase where we aim to double the size of the business in the next 2 years.
We have continued to grow through innovation and diversification.
By building teams of amazing people we call Chillers and training them to deliver uncompromised service to some of the best clients any business could want, Chill will to continue to grow.