By Eric Peterson | Nov 19, 2017
Modified shipping containers
Inspired by the fireworks stands made from old shipping containers, Halsch and co-founder Mike Lassers' initial concept for RoxBox was "a nicer mobile office," says Halsch, founder and CEO of Overcon Containers, but they instead developed a mobile bar, complete with eight beer taps and a walk-in cooler, called theBeerCan.
A CoolBot temperature controller turns a 12,000-BTU air-conditioning unit into the driver for the walk-in cooler, fronted by cargo doors and sheathed by four inches of insulation.
The walk-in is a huge selling point, and not just for beer festivals, says Halsch. "This can be great for any festival where you need to keep something cold," he says. "It only takes 35 to 50 minutes to cool it down to 38 degrees."
Halsch and Lassers connected with Grant Babb of Edgewater-based Joyride Brewing and came up with the idea in early 2017, then built the first unit for several events, including Denver Startup Week, Joyride's fifth-anniversary celebration, and the Summerset Festival in Jefferson County
That unit is now available as a rental for $1,250 a day (delivery included), but Halsch and Lassers' goal is to sell customizable BeerCans to breweries, event companies, and other customers for $20,000 to $30,000. Restaurants could use them as "back patio bars," he says, and breweries could use them to open a second taproom on the cheap. "You could drop it in and check out a market," says Halsch. "For 25 grand, you could have a whole another tasting room."
But Halsch sees even more potential for RoxBox in the residential market. "They're calling it cargo architecture," he says, noting that the business is finalizing a partnership with Detroit-based Three Squared on "Cargominium" projects in Colorado. "That's our next big push. . . . We'd be their fabricating agent in Denver."
Halsch says RoxBox has also built a prototype container-based tiny house with an undisclosed manufacturer in southern Colorado; state certification is underway. "We can build tiny homes up to code in a factory," says Halsch.
Building code is a big stumbling block for container construction, mostly because it's difficult to certify individual containers for fire safety.
But clearing that hurdle makes for construction costs of about $60 a square foot, versus more than $200 for traditional construction, making it a potential game changer for affordable housing.
RoxBox has also taken on a number of custom projects to make containers as offices and other uses. "Container architecture and container construction are awesome in that it's repurposing. We're doing something solid for the Earth," says Halsch. In many cases, containers "sit around and rust in a yard until they become scrap steel."
"It's a blank slate," says Halsch. "We can handle any sort of modification, any sort of fabrication."
Challenges: Marketing. "Getting the market out there and getting the BeerCan in front of people," says Halsch.
Opportunities: Custom container conversions for a wide range of uses. "Ultimately, the BeerCan will give people an idea of what they can do with a container," says Halsch. A new partnership with a global container company gives RoxBox the ability to modify containers at 16 different depots.
Needs: "Customers, always," says Halsch, noting that he's planning to get a RoxBox on the floor of the 2018 Great American Beer Festival in Denver to help get the word out to potential customers all over the country. "We're going to partner with a brewery."