A Cambridgeshire business group with interests in everything from vehicle hire to office cleaning services has identified commercial refrigeration as its next area of growth.
The Flex-Able Group, based in St Ives, has launched a new subsidiary called FlexErefrigeration, which will provide repair and maintenance services for commercial foodservice refrigeration.
The business is being headed by Colin Melhuish, a refrigeration engineer who previously covered the Midlands area for Stevenage catering equipment services provider Serviceline.
Melhuish and another director own 48% of FlexErefrigeration, while Richard Van Bergen, group managing director of the Flex-Able Group, holds a controlling stake.
Melhuish told Catering Insight that FlexErefrigeration will operate on a 24/7 basis and provide customers with planned servicing, maintenance packages and even a ‘refurb exchange’ service.
“We are doing refurbished equipment with a part exchange scheme, so we’ll go out to a unit that has broken and if it’s going to cost the customer a lot of money we can replace it for a like-for-like unit and take their one into a part exchange,” he said. “We’ll refurb the unit and then put it back into our stores or on sale via a website we are launching. It is like a ‘recycling’ centre.”
FlexErefrigeration feels there is a gap in the local market and that is where it will channel its efforts, at least until it reaches a point where it becomes viable to hire additional engineers.
“We are looking at local restaurants and local businesses within the Cambridgeshire area really, until we get to that point where we can build ourselves and be able to offer services on a larger clientele basis,” said Melhuish. “A lot of the [services] companies that are established around this area tend to be bigger companies and they hit the London area. There is not a lot that seem to be really interested in the smaller, local businesses within the Cambridgeshire area, so we think there is a gap in the market.”
One other ambition the company has is to supplement its repair and refurbishment activities with installation work. Melhuish admits that could be a slow burner, though.
“We have tried contacting a couple of manufacturers and companies just to say that we are available, but it is the usual scenario at the minute. Trying to get in the door is very difficult. But hopefully we can get some feedback that will allow us to get on the install trail as well.”