When oil drum salesman Nathan Pearson took time out for a pandemic lockdown meeting round the barbecue he hit on the idea that has turbo-charged his company - steel drum barbecues.
Eight months and 60 BBQ sales later his bright idea has mushroomed into a burgeoning business that has outgrown his back garden and the storage unit he rented to take over new premises in Saltney.
Now Nathan and his team are turning brand new upright 45-gallon steel drums into barbecues as well as a range of outdoor drum furniture and reconditioning used drums for sale.
Instead of the storage unit he rented at Lock Stock Self Storage’s River Lane site in Saltney he has bought a 40-foot unit from them to store a supply of the hefty steel drums.
Now thanks to an attractive paint job from mural artist Sam Porter, provides an attractive backdrop to a leisure area perfect for the kind of Friday afternoon barbecue business meeting that launched this success story.
Nathan, from Chester, began in business dealing in waste mineral oil but after selling that operation he saw the potential in the containers and 45 Gallon Drums was born.
He said: “Originally it was an on-line business selling the drums and using a storage unit at Lock Stock’s site and my back garden but we outgrew that and over a business meeting round the barbie we came up with this idea.
“We can also make the drums into tables and chairs because they’re ideal for outdoor garden furniture, they’re tough and durable and they can easily be printed with company logos or designs.
“Early this year we had an order for 100 tables from a rum company which was unfortunately cancelled when lockdown came in but I’m hopeful they’ll be back.
“I think the idea is right for the difficult times we’re living through because people want to be outdoors because it’s easier to meet up that way and what could be better than to socialise around a barbecue where it’s nice and warm.”
Mike Trow, Lock Stock Site Manager for North East Wales and Chester, said: “Nathan has been really inventive and seen a great opportunity here.
“He used to rent with us but once he saw the opportunity for his business to grow he’s moved into these premises just down the road and bought one of our storage units which he’s had painted up.
“It’s perfect for him and makes a great backdrop to his outdoor seating and barbecue area.”
The drums, which are made locally, are both brand new and reconditioned – the reconditioned drums have previously been lined with plastic bags inside to store fruit juices and other edible liquids before being steam cleaned, de-dented and repainted to look like new again.
Nathan and his assistant, Rob Randall, have plenty of space inside the unit to carry out the conversion work and he now has big plans for the outdoor area with ideas for a barbecue school and even for open-air weekend catering stalls.
He said: “We have a network of people with the skills to make this all happen and our plan now is to get a bit more wacky and come up with some more ideas for the space we have here.
“We’ve already developed a plancha hotplate to cook on top of the coals and we supply barbecue consumables like charcoal, smoking woods and seasonings.
“It would be great to bring in some local independent businesses to make this a hub for outdoor cooking and eating.”
Lisa James, of Lock Stock, said: “Containers are really versatile and ideal for so many different uses and we’re finding there has been a real surge in demand for them.
“An advantage of buying outright is that you can also paint the exterior to your own taste including having your company branding if you are launching your own business.
“Our containers have so many uses, one is even an indoor coffee bar, and with our specialist lorry we can deliver units up to 40 feet long and can also arrange to move them to different site locations.”
Lock Stock, founded in 1999, is the UK’s largest containerised storage company with over 3,000 units providing over four million cubic feet of space at 19 parks across North and Mid Wales and the border counties.
Their existing sites stretch from Caernarfon, Holyhead and Bangor along the North Wales coast at Llandudno and Rhyl, on the Dee at Flint, Sandycroft and Chester and inland at Denbigh, Mold, Wrexham and Newtown in Powys, and at Oswestry and Shrewsbury in Shropshire.
The company also specialise in the off-site hire of containers which can be delivered by their specialist lorry and which range in size from 10-feet long up through 20-footers to 40-foot units, all eight feet high and eight feet wide, from 640 to 2,560 in cubic feet in volume, and can arrange a sales service, including delivery, as well.
Their units are watertight and they can also be insulated plus they provide versatile storage options or for the more ambitious, a range of possible uses including office space and even as component parts of innovative new homes.
Nathan’s oil drum barbecues start at around £200 and for more information on them and his other services go to 45gallondrums and for information about Lock Stock Self Storage including for off-site container hire contact them on 01745 817178.