One company that is working hard to provide high quality, purpose designed and built kitchens for the commercial sector is Old Ford Catering Equipment Limited.

Situated at the end of the Old Ford Road in a very attractive building that was a church in its previous existence, the company was acquired by its present owner, Chi-Min Pang in 2010; Chi-Min spent 30 years in the manufacturing industry after university.

He explains, “I have an office in China sourcing products from China for UK companies but last year things were becoming more difficult and a friend introduced me to the owner of this company who was looking to retire after more than 50 years in the business. At that time, it had a turnover of about £1 million and was, in truth, punching above its weight, with much of its work coming by word of mouth. I am totally new to this industry but I do believe that it can now be built into one of the key suppliers of turnkey commercial kitchens.”

The company provides a one-stop-shop solution, from initial sketches, full CAD drawings, complete product specifications, installation, commission and training as well as after sales service, including maintenance and service, kitchen and tableware etc. A key feature of all the work that the company does is energy saving and sustainability, areas that are becoming increasingly important and yet, Chi-Min Pang believes that as an industry, these aspects are not really taken seriously at the moment.

To date, much of the work that has been done, probably around 65% of the business, has been in the state sector schools and in hotels. Nevertheless, Chi-Min Pang believes that, since most of this work has to be carried out during the Easter or summer holidays, it is necessary to spread the workload so that the company is busy all through the year. He says, “We are the preferred supplier to more than half of the London Boroughs and so when new kitchens are wanted, we are always asked to tender. However, in order to keep everyone busy all year round, work is now being actively sought from schools in the private sector, as government cutbacks hit the state sector, from care homes, hotels and restaurants. Traditionally, because this was a family owned business, work was only sought in the London area but we will be looking to widen our coverage.”

One thing that Chi-Mi Pang is proud of is that all of the company’s suppliers are UK-based. He says, “Although I have many years experience of sourcing from China, I believe that, in the areas of high technology and high quality catering equipment for the commercial sector, that country has a long way to go, for example, with deep freezers, refrigerators, cooking equipment. I believe that working with bespoke designs as we do, you cannot have this manufactured outside the UK if you want it to be available at the right price, at the right time and to the right quality.”

He continues, “However, we do not stop once the installation has been completed and signed off. Following installation, an ongoing service and maintenance programme can be provided. In addition, we can provide a wide range of ancillary equipment, including a range of built-to-order and standard stainless steel fittings are available, including cupboards, basins, benches, tables and shelves.” Truly, this seems to be a company that is cooking up a bright future!


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