Earlier this year, the Ali Group added Kold-Draft to its portfolio of companies. It raised eyes among foodservice professionals who have long seen Kold-Draft’s patented ice cube as the proverbial “diamond in the rough.”
“The KOLD-DRAFT acquisition is strategically important to our Group as it strengthens our position as a leader in the global commercial foodservice industry,” stated Filippo Berti, Ali Group’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “This latest acquisition provides us with one of the industry’s most unique and well-known ice shapes and further enhances our portfolio in the ice machine segment. The addition of very strong and well-recognized brands to those of the Ali Group.”
Since 1955, KOLD-DRAFT has been manufacturing ice machines that make the only true “square cube,” utilizing their exclusive “upside-down” horizontal evaporator ice-making system. KOLD-DRAFT machines produce pure, solid, sparkling ice that cools faster, melts slower, and doesn’t distort the taste of beverages. KOLD-DRAFT machines have a long life cycle and a three-year warranty on all parts and labor, making them one of the least expensive to own.
Kold-Draft and its iconic cube have always been well known in New York City. Mixologists and their creative cocktail making have taken centerstage over the last 20 plus years. Many of the world’s award winning and visionary barkeeps call Manhattan and Metro New York home. With that many those leaders have brought focus upon the importance of the ice cube not to keep drinks cold but to be part of the recipe of a signature cocktail.
“That large cube with its unique density has become an essential part of the mix,” noted Jeffrey Hendler, General Manager-New York region for Icesurance. Hendler’s firm has collaborated with Eastchester, NY based PBAC to form a new representation and distribution strategy for Ali Group’s ice division in Metro New York. Hendler brings decades of knowledge to the new Kold-Draft team.
“The market for a clear, square cube continues to increase as demand is now well beyond the original niche mixology segment that jump started the trend in 2007-2008,” Hendler explained. “Simply put, its’ popularity is the result of being a better product for any ‘on the rocks’ cocktail. With consumers paying $20 to $25 for a fine scotch, why dilute it with happy meal cubes?”
The need for specialty ice has evolved. In many cases, you are now seeing an array of ice machines to handle the needs of the restaurant and food service operator, depending on the size of a venue, including a Scotsman nugget machine for julep style, a Scotsman flaker for the kitchen and then a Kold-Draft to support the cube needs of the cocktail operation.”
Hendler has also had a unique insight into the growth of ice machine leasing. “What began in the late 70’s as a financial solution for what may have been a startup or struggling operator has changed dramatically,” Hendler explained. “Today, many of Metro New York’s top nightclubs and restaurants can certainly afford to buy an ice machine. But what they are really after is the peace of mind that our rental program offers with scheduled cleaning & sanitizing as well as guaranteed replacement ice in the event of a malfunction.”
“We’ve been doing this for a long time and the reality is with the wear and tear that a machine goes through, they will break down,” Hendler said. “So it really comes back to how much would it cost to have 500 pounds of ice delivered to Manhattan for three or four days while waiting for a service technician to comeback with a replacement part.”
PBAC brings a stellar reputation to the new collaboration. They are recognized as a leading manufacturer’s rep wage in Metro New York and Upstate New York. Company president Larry Cantamessa and his team represent 20 premium manufacturers, from smallwares through heavy equipment. Since 1988, they have worked side by side leading dealers and consultants to service the needs of their restaurant, B2B and healthcare customers.
“We are so excited about the impact the Kold-Draft line is going to have on our Scotsman business,” Cantamessa explained. “Many of our dealers and consultants are keyed in on the profit opportunities that high priced cocktails offer their end-user customers. With that in mind they know about the Kold-Draft cube and now they understand with Ali and Scotsman, the support is there that is essential to support their customers’ operations.”
“We are thrilled to be able to offer the extraordinary level of service that our Ali Group customers have come to expect,” noted Ken Harris, Regional Sales Manager, Northeast USA and Canada, Scotsman Ice Systems & Kold-Draft. With Harris’s knowledge of the marketplace, PBAC will work on the specification of ice systems with equipment and supply dealers and consultants. Icesurance will handle it rental and leasing of the Kold-Draft line.
Founded in 1963 by Luciano Berti, the Ali Group is an Italian corporation with headquarters located in Milan, Italy and North American operations based in Chicago, Illinois. Through its subsidiaries, the company designs, manufactures, markets and services a broad line of commercial and institutional foodservice equipment used by major restaurant and hotel chains, independent restaurants, hospitals, schools, airports, correctional institutions and canteens.
The Ali Group and its 80 global brands employ approximately 10,000 people in 30 countries and, in terms of sales, is one of the world’s largest groups in this industry. It has 58 manufacturing facilities in 15 countries and sales and service subsidiaries throughout Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.