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Tower Cold Chain

Queen’s Awards Winner 2022 for International Trade

Tower Cold Chain runs hot after Covid booster

Niall Balfour CEO of Tower Cold Chain.jpg

Tower’s chief executive Niall Balfour 

It is 22 years since this multi-award-winning company’s founder John Pring filed his first patent for a reusable container to transport temperature sensitive pharmaceuticals, life-science, and biotech products, and 20 years since the first products were launched. 

Much has happened in those two decades: a name change from Kryotrans to Tower Cold Chain, a lot of science, a lot of innovation and their products criss-crossing millions of miles across the globe, all of which has brought this company to a preeminent position in container solutions for the global pharmaceutical industry.

Tower Cold Chain now supplies to many of the world’s top pharmaceutical and 3PL companies with market-leading robust, reliable and reusable thermal containers and which are used to transport temperature-sensitive products such as vaccines, blood kits, medical devices and clinical trials materials. The range of unique temperature-controlled containers can be configured to provide 120+ hours of product protection at temperatures including <-60°C, -20°C, +4°C and +20°C. 

Arguably the biggest progress Tower Cold Chain has made has been in the last three years - three years which include sizeable investment, new headquarters, a global health pandemic and the resultant demand for vaccines which has really proved the Theale-based company’s mettle.

Just weeks into the pandemic that paralysed large parts of the world in 2020, Tower Cold Chain received significant investment from Investec that enabled them to scale at a time when the world was calling.

Tower’s chief executive Niall Balfour, above, said: “That was the kick start because we were able to demonstrate real growth in terms of product, people and infrastructure from the year before and show confidence that ours was a very reliable product that could work everywhere in the world.

“We were growing before Covid-19, but it gave us a boost because we were able, at a critical time, to prove our ability to provide a solution to distributing vaccines safely and efficiently, particularly those which needed to be kept ultra-cold.

“Being a small company we could be agile and were able quickly to innovate and adapt an existing product to create a new one (KTM42D Tower Double Euro Pallet Ultra Cold) to move bulk shipments of vaccines. The drugs' manufacturers saw that our products worked well within their existing supply chain and our reputation and visibility has grown as a consequence.”

During the last 18 months, Tower has increased its fleet of rental containers from 300 to nearly 3000 and over the last three years overseas sales have grown by 250 percent with the proportion of total sales exported growing from 59 to 80 percent. The period saw increasing commercial success with UK staff numbers growing from 23 to 40.

“We have an intensive plan to expand by speeding up our digital transformation and opening more facilities across the world to strengthen our relationships with our partners and suppliers which we hope will open up new markets. We have also recently launched a new lightweight product, KTEvolution, for smaller shipments such as direct-to-patient and last-mile deliveries to meet the latest cold-chain needs and are looking to break in to that market.”

With the safe movement of lifesaving medicines and devices, Tower Cold Chain has necessarily had to be highly customer-focused and it’s the trust that the company has built over the years as much as anything of which Niall Balfour is most proud: “Being recognised for our international growth in this way shows how focused we are on meeting our customers’ needs,” he said. 

“We’re thrilled for the teams in all our territories. This maybe a prestigious UK-based award, but also provides recognition for our loyal and hard-working teams in EMEA, Americas and APAC. We’re hoping that as we grow, it will help us to attract more talent to the team from around the world because the Queen’s Award for enterprise has real resonance and pulling power.”

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