The owner of a catering equipment distributor start-up in Essex has already been awarded for his dynamism, even though the company is less than 3 years old.
Andy Joyce of Cater Right won the Thurrock Businessman of the Year prize at the 2015 Essex Business Awards, while his firm was also a finalist in the Thurrock New Business of the Year category.
The Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom Installers’ founder and chairman Damian Walters, one of the Businessman of the Year category judges, said: “Whilst Andrew was up against some true heavyweight contenders, I was bowled over by sheer focus and determination, coupled with a clear business acumen – despite his relatively late-in-life start to going it alone.”
Joyce established Cater Right in August 2012, hoping that his experience as an end-user in many guises would be the unique selling point. His parents were publicans and he enjoyed stints at TGI Fridays as a master bartender then a manager, eventually going into management training and development roles across the various brands of Whitbread, and eventually onto a more food-based training role at David Lloyd.
Walters added: “In what is unarguably a competitive industry, Andrew has built the platform for a robust business model, demonstrated by steady growth and a portfolio of impressive clients including Orsett Hall and other successful local businesses.”
Joyce detailed: “I set Cater Right up from nothing and literally started knocking on doors to find out if there was a need for a true customer focused catering product distributor in Thurrock. My only competition seemed to be a couple of the national distributors. As my buying power was minimal there were few importers that would work with me direct so I bought (and still do to some extent) my goods through other larger distributors.”
Starting with a small range of glassware, some janitorial and cleaning products, along with a limited range of disposables, the range has developed to encompass many more tableware products, including the Genware, Churchill, Artis, Utopia and Arcoroc brands.
2014 saw big changes as the distributor received more enquiries for heavy catering equipment, so it now offers equipment from Lincat, Imperial, Williams and Interlevin, among others.
The company has achieved 80% growth year on year since it began and Joyce hopes this will continue. “We are now fully aware that the structure of the business will need to change considerably to allow this growth to happen.
“I believe that the success of Cater Right is 100% about being able to talk to customers in a language they understand. Because we all have experience as end-users, our customers trust us and our advice. As we expand we will continue to employ people with fantastic customer skills and a working knowledge of hospitality.”