Is Box™ the My Food Bag of Architecture?

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As the front-woman and co-founder of My Food Bag, celebrity Masterchef winner Nadia Lim must find it hard to keep the smile off her well-known face. The company, launched by serial entrepreneur Cecilia Robinson, reached a turnover of $100 million in a little over two and a half years – a phenomenal success story. But what does a food delivery, nutritionally balanced recipe service have to do with Box™? We think plenty. Dig beneath the delicious dishes marketed to time-poor professionals and you’ll come up with some not-so-crazy business parallels between us:

Beyond the Product

At MFB the ‘product’ they are selling is not ingredients, recipes or even meals, it’s something far more important. The idea is to save mums and dads time by teaching them how to cook in a quick, easy way. If all the elements are on hand, they needn’t rush out to the supermarket or the nearest fast food outlet. The plan is to encourage families to eat together with the ultimate vision of creating healthier, stronger communities.

At Box™, we’re of a similar mind-set. Yes, we design and build houses. But our stock in trade is not sticks and bricks. Instead, we have the long-term end goal in sight. We create spaces that are enjoyable to live in. Because they are functional, warm, enduring and cost efficient to maintain and run, they improve the quality of people’s lives. So while we sell houses, we’re in the business of wellbeing.

Innovation Stations

When MFB won the Excellence in Innovation Award in the Central Division of the Westpac Auckland Business Awards in November 2014, it was for a number of areas where they had thought outside the, er, bag. From their PR launch mainly through social media, to their website design, to the IP inherent in the exclusive, specially created recipes and down to the nitty gritty of cold storage and logistics of delivering the goods, it was pioneering stuff.

At Box™, we share MFB’s fast growth curve. From 2 employees and a turnover of $700K in 2011, we’ve expanded to 40 employees and a turnover of $20 million. And we continue to look for ways to be innovative in what we do and how we do it. That means incorporating lean production philosophies into our construction processes – (the industry is still inefficient and wasteful) – and using new technologies such as BIM (building information management) to streamline and communicate the design side. Both these innovations ensure cost reductions that can be passed on to our clients.

Prefabulous Parts

Although MFB doesn’t actually cook and deliver a finished meal to your door, they do some measure of ‘prefabrication’ to ensure the time spent gathering ingredients and preparing them is lessened. For instance, they’ll combine just the right herbs and spices into a flavour mix to pep up pumpkin or they’ll create a tasty paste to slather over chicken. They also deliver just the right amount of meat, vegetables and sauces you need – negating the need to, for instance, buy a whole tub of sour cream for a recipe that calls for just one spoonful. They negotiate with suppliers to provide ingredients in smaller, less wasteful quantities.

At Box™, we also prefabricate elements of the build – in some instances, a series of modules arrives with frame, linings and even plumbing elements complete – so that the on-site ‘cook’ can assemble parts rather than construct them from scratch.  A universal kitset of trusted tools (the ‘storecupboard’ if you like) allows us to build faster and with certainty of outcome and cost. We design using standardised increments of materials, so there are no offcuts. Prefab is about reducing all different types of waste – material, time, money, people hours – and build in controlled conditions in order to offer a product of the highest quality.  It’s our ‘secret sauce’ that gives us the ability to produce good design, smarter.

Accessible Architecture

Three years after the MFB concept hit the market, and the company had refined relationships with suppliers, and fine-tuned systems, they launched Bargain Box with the aim of making everyday meals – think fish and chips or bangers and mash – healthier on a budget.

At Box™, we’ve always believed, somewhat idealistically, in architecture for the masses. Our mission is to offer quality design that as many people as possible can afford. Good form and function lies at the heart of this belief – it’s the benefit that never alters. If you have to skimp on the “frills’, that’s where our design nous comes into play. Our modernist aesthetic ensures sound, satisfying design that is also good looking.