It would have been an obvious move for Will Box to join the family business. Instead, he started his own.
Inter Fresh is a fruit and veg wholesaler, launched last October, that is already supplying 40 customers in and around Carlisle.
Will is steeped in the fruit and veg trade.
His father, Dave Box, runs A Stephenson Ltd, in Appleby, where Will began working while still he was still a pupil at William Howard School in Brampton.
He said: “I started when I was 15 and then carried on after I left school. Initially I was packing orders in the warehouse. When I passed my driving test, I started doing deliveries and later working in the office.
“In 2015 I decided to go travelling and went to Australia for a year, and while I was there spent nearly five months in Brisbane working for a large fruit and veg wholesaler called MorCo Fresh.
It’s a really good service for someone like me starting out as one-man band, having that support.
“They operate throughout Australia and have some high-profile customers including Emirates and Singapore Airlines, Hilton Group, and P&O Cruises.
“I ended up looking after key accounts. It was seeing how they did things that made me want to set up my own business. It was the processes, and the way they worked – I could see the potential.”
He returned to Cumbria in September last year and Inter Fresh was trading by the end of October.
“I did save money while I was in Australia,” Will said, “and that enabled to buy a van and get the business up and running.”
His first customers were Alexandros Greek Restaurant in Carlisle, and the Golden Fleece gastropub at Ruleholme near Irthington.
He said: “I’d known Aris [Pathanoglou] at Alexandros for years and he said, if you decide to set up on your own I will support you.
“We now have around 40 customers.”
Initially, Will ran the business from his home. It now has two vans, and he has just signed the lease on warehouse premises in Caldewgate.
Not that Inter Fresh holds much stock.
The firm’s philosophy is to deliver produce in the freshest possible condition – it often arrives within 48 hours of the harvest.
Will said: “We do try to source local produce when it’s in season.
“We get potatoes from Egremont, for example, and we source a lot from Lancashire and the North East.”
The business is putting down roots in the community too. It donates 10p from every order to the Eden Valley Hospice.
When setting up Inter Fresh, Will enrolled on the Business Start-up Support (BSUS) programme, delivered by the Chamber’s Cumbria Business Growth Hub, and has nothing but praise for his adviser Kevin Thistlethwaite.
He said: “I did one or two courses, including one or marketing that was useful, but what I really wanted was someone to talk to and run things by.
“Kevin acted a sounding bound and I saw him every few weeks to make sure I was on the right track. It’s a really good service for someone like me starting out as one-man band, having that support.”
He added: “The business is where I wanted it to be at this stage. The target was to get premises in the first year, and by the end of the three years I’d hope to have four vans and to have expanded into southern Scotland.”
If you are thinking of starting your own business or social enterprise, then Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and our partners are here to help with a free business start-up programme to point you in the right direction.
Our comprehensive package of support includes:
- Free meetings with a business adviser to review and develop your business idea;
- Free training covering business planning and self-employment, an introduction to marketing/market research and sales forecasts, promotion and sales, an introduction to planning and managing finance, taxation and bookkeeping, using the internet and social media;
- Free help to develop your business plan and get your business up and running;
- Free membership of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.
The £1.7m Business Start-up Support (BSUS) project is creating almost 700 new businesses and nearly 1,200 jobs. It is also supporting around 250 young businesses and generating more than £92m GVA.
For more information, call us today on 0845 226 0040 or click here to visit the Cumbria Business Growth Hub web site.
The funding that supports the Growth Hub comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Allerdale Borough Council (Sellafield Ltd’s Allerdale SIIF, distributed by Allerdale Borough Council), Barrow Borough Council (FEDF Coastal Communities Fund Supply Chain Initiative, the Coastal Communities Fund is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estates marine assets; it is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of UK Government), Carlisle City Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria LEP.
The BSUS project is receiving up to £1,112,686 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.
Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information, click here.© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce