Hamilton's Muscle Fuel going gangbusters

KASHKA TUNSTALL
Last updated 10:30 07/12/2013
 Muscle Fuel.
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ

Healthy business: High performance athletes like bodybuilder Daniel Mazzola (left) are benefiting from Hamish Coulter’s (far right) new ready-made frozen meal company Muscle Fuel.

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Hamish Coulter says he has 10 extra hours of time on his hands these days.

A national champion bodybuilder and powerlifter, Coulter used to spend early mornings and late nights prepping his food for the next day, making sure every gram was exactly weighed to specification for his strict training diet.

It was time consuming and frustrating stuff, he says.

But necessary.

When you're training for a show or competition, five grams extra on your plate can be the difference between first and second place.

So when the idea struck to develop and operate a business pre-preparing and delivering meals to people in his same situation - cutting out the hours of food preparation to invest them back into training - he knew he had hit a winner.

Coulter is the owner-operator and sole shareholder of new business Muscle Fuel, where the idea is to make nutrition easier for athletes around the country.

Coulter has invested $200,000 into fitting out his Frankton site, buying commercial kitchen equipment and a blast freezer. He has hired four people full time and a handful on casual stuff.

The company has a commercial production kitchen with professional chefs, creating meals that have been put together with the tick of approval from local nutritionist Jake Campus.

The food is all made from locally sourced produce and meat and is then blast frozen.

The meals are bought in bulk online and can be picked up from the Frankton kitchen or couriered direct to the door.

Coulter has been competing in bodybuilding and powerlifting competitions for 15 years, so he knows his stuff when it comes to food fuelling athlete bodies.

Originally from Waihi Beach, Coulter moved to Hamilton to study electrical commerce.

He owned his own business for seven years before the idea for Muscle Fuel came along.

He opened up the new venture in August and already the business is going gangbusters, and turning a profit.

"Coming in every morning and looking at the numbers week on week, it's exponential growth."

After four months the business is making 2000 meals a week.

Its maximum output is up to 8000 meals a week.

Coulter's target market was high performance athletes, and he secured a few clients before setting up in order to get the financing to open.

"If you target the niche of high performance athletes, you're going to drag in everyone who wants to be them as well.

"If you want to be Rob Waddell, you've got to eat like Rob Waddell, and for every one of him there's 10,000 people who want to be like him," he says.

The clientele over the first four months has surprised him.

They include high performance body builders, lifters, rowers, tennis players, rugby players and netballers.

The highlight so far has been helping athletes win competitions like Daniel Mazzola, a client who won Waikato's bodybuilding men's physique title in September.

But general gym goers and parents are repeat Muscle Fuel customers too.

And with the expected influx of cyclists into the Waikato with the Avantidrome nearing completion, Coulter says high carb meals geared towards cyclist nutrition is the next line to come out of his kitchen.

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The majority of clients are in Auckland with 40 per cent of the meals couriered up State Highway 1. About 30 per cent of the orders stay in Hamilton, 10 per cent go to Wellington and then the rest around the country.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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