Happy Birthday, Coinadrink!

Coinadrink, the vending company based in Walsall, is celebrating its 55th anniversary in business this week and its founder, Roger Williams, is still at the helm.

Roger’s career began in 1956 as a Commercial Apprentice with Joseph Sankey of Bilston. In 1957, the company produced its first vending machine under license from the US based Vendo corporation and by 1960, it was the UK market leader in drinks vending.

Roger was asked to stay on at the end of his apprenticeship.   Soon after that, he was offered a senior position in India – but he had other ideas… He received an invitation to experience the burgeoning vending industry in New York, which he quickly seized upon.

It was ‘a real eye-opener’ and Roger saw an opportunity to carve a niche for himself back home by creating an operating company; installing, maintaining and re-filling vending machines.

So, Coinadrink was born and its first customers were the ‘Pot Banks’ of Stoke-on-Trent. The dusty conditions, coupled with long working hours, meant that the consumption of drinks was ‘phenomenal’.

Focussing on expansion, Roger added an engineer and a salesman to his team and as the factories of the Black Country tightened their belts, by eschewing the traditional Tea Lady in favour of vending machines, Coinadrink was well placed to benefit from the incumbent opportunities.

Today, Coinadrink is one of the UK’s leading vending operators, serving B&I customers throughout the Midlands.

Whilst he cites ‘innovation’ as an important part of the firm’s longevity – Coinadrink has expanded into the provision of water and latterly micro-markets – Roger acknowledges that his staff are his most valuable asset. ‘Never mind the ‘minimum wage’ or ‘the living wage’, Roger said, ‘we’ve always focused on paying our people as much as we can, rather than as little as we can get away with.’

It’s a strategy that has paid dividends: Coinadrink has 21 staff members who have been with the company in excess of 25 years and with son Tom in line to become Roger’s successor, Coinadrink is a local success story that promises to go on and on.

Acting as the perfect way to celebrate such a landmark, the company have also been elected as ‘member of the week’ by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce. The initiative is designed as a way to appreciate the great work that the members are doing and to showcase the success stories in the local area.

 

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