Mike brews a caffeine hit Burleigh to the world
HE started selling coffee machines to businesses in the Q Super Centre from the boot of his car.
Fast-forward 13 years and Mike Koolen and his Essential Brands Group has international offices throughout Australasia, Asia, the UK and Europe.
The Burleigh-based EBG, with the help of City of Gold Coast, has now brewed up a $US2 million ($A2.15 million) contract to distribute its systems in the Middle East.
The deal was stitched up as a result of Mr Koolen attending a council-assisted Arab health trade show in Dubai.
Mr Koolen said the deal would see EBG’s I Luv Coffee, I Luv Slush and I Luv Frozee yoghurt brand systems supplied throughout the Middle East.
For he and wife Gayle, the global growth of the business is the result of years of hard work and success is sweet.
Mr Koolen and his family had moved to the UK but struggled to find a foothold in a difficult market after selling the Australasian rights to his previous Kools brand chicken business to Gold Coast-based Retail Food Group.
“We started EBG on the smell of an oily rag in a garage after returning to the Gold Coast from overseas, broke and with two kids to look after,” Mr Koolen said.
He came up with the idea of supplying cafe bar-style coffee machines to businesses, struck up a relationship with an Italian manufacturer, and started doorknocking potential customers.
“I started with four machines, then eight and it grew from there,” Mr Koolen said.
EBG went on to franchise the concept in Australasia and operates through partnership deals in Singapore, the Philippines, Europe, the UK and now the Middle East.
“We now represent 60 per cent of our Italian manufacturers’ business,” Mr Koolen said.
The Essential brand has expanded to include slushie and frozen yoghurt machines and there are plans to expand the brand systems with I Love Pasta and I Love Pizza franchises.
EBG now has a national annual turnover of $16 million and projected growth of 15 per cent a year.
Essential Brands Group boss Mike Koolen with one of the machines he’ll be taking into the Middle East.