WWW? It’s ‘The Wise Words of Williams!’

PART ONE: Stick to what you do best

Coinadrink MD, Roger Williams

People often ask me ‘Roger, how come you never expanded the business and set up in London?’ It’s a fair question, but the truth is, I never really thought about it. Don’t get me wrong, I could see the attractions that were luring some of my competitors down to ‘the Smoke’. At the time, it seemed vending operators could virtually charge what they liked. Similar contracts could earn you double down there what they’d earn you in Walsall, Wednesbury or Wolverhampton in those days.

I thought, ‘stick to what you do best’, and I realised that what I did best – what Coinadrink did best – was provide a vending service with a personal touch to customers in and around our base in the West Midlands. So, that’s what we did and I’ve never regretted it.

When the going gets tough, asking yourself again what it is that you do best can often kick-start a change round in your fortunes.

For instance, to all intents and purposes, the ‘vending market’ on our patch has disappeared. You see more dodos running round Cannock Chase than you see free-standing coffee machines in huge industrial plants these days and that’s because those huge industrial plants are extinct.

‘When the going gets tough, asking yourself again what it is that you do best can often kick-start a change round in your fortunes.’

I was visiting a supplier the other day at premises in Bilston that once housed the UK’s first vending machine manufacturer, Joseph Sankey. I worked there in 1958 and as I sat in the smart boardroom I reflected that back then, 200,000 people were employed in heavy industry within a radius of five miles of where I was currently sipping an Americano.

Workers at Joseph Sankey & Sons Ltd, Bilston, 1950’s

It wasn’t called The Black Country for nothing! The local economy was built around massive family businesses that had been set up in Victorian times. For example, one business, called Rubery Owen, employed 17,000 on its own.

When I started in business, the opportunities to provide vending services to busy workplaces seemed never ending – but end, they did. That was ‘The Golden Age of Vending’, that was…

Rubery Owen
Inside Rubery Owen…

So I had to ask myself again, ‘what do you do best?’ and I realised that what I did best was ‘to make it possible to provide people at work with the means to access or to buy top quality refreshments in optimum condition, where and when they want them.’

It’s relatively rare these days that a coffee vending machine with a capacity of 600 cups is part of a business refreshment solution here in the West Midlands, but so be it. In their place, we’re now able to offer table-top machines that are capable of producing really delicious coffee and tea, some of them from single-serve pods, that make economical sense in workplaces employing as few as half a dozen people. Click here to take a look at our range and you’ll see what I mean.

Yes, the world has changed beyond recognition since I started in business, but one thing has remained constant: people need to eat and drink whilst they’re at work – and making it happen? That’s what I do best – that’s what Coinadrink does best.

Thanks for reading.

Roger Williams



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