Mike brews a caf­feine hit Burleigh to the world

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - BUSINESS - JENNY ROGERS JENNY.ROGERS@NEWS.COM.AU

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.

Pic­ture: JERAD WIL­LIAMS

Es­sen­tial Brands Group boss Mike Koolen with one of the ma­chines he’ll be tak­ing into the Mid­dle East.

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