Refrigeratedtransporter 3936 Coldtainer Lil Ponderosa Transit Connect Ford 3 Cropped

Lil’ Ponderosa Beef chooses Coldtainer over costly van upfit

May 3, 2019
Lil' Ponderosa Beef picked Coldtainers over an expensive van upfit for their beef business in Carlisle PA.

Lil’ Ponderosa Beef, a small beef business in Carlisle PA, decided against insulating and upfitting a van with a refrigeration unit three years ago, opting instead to utilize a Coldtainer container and a standard van for deliveries, which they say saved them $10,000 to $15,000.

“Compared to insulating a vehicle and upfitting it with a roof-mounted refrigeration unit, we spent $10,000 to $15,000 less on a standard van and a Coldtainer,” said Bob Boyce, founder of Lil’ Ponderosa Beef. “The reliability of the portable container has also been great. We’ve never had an issue since we’ve owned it and it doesn’t require maintenance.

“The Coldtainer is a simple solution that meets our refrigerated and frozen transport needs at a much lower cost.”

Bob and Kate Boyce founded Lil' Ponderosa Beef in 1986 with a herd of purebred Angus stock. The growing business now includes a slaughterhouse in Chambersburg PA. Today, Lil' Ponderosa Beef delivers fresh and frozen products to meat shops, restaurants and farm markets across eastern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland.


For Lil' Ponderosa Beef, selling only fresh beef to retail stores and restaurants requires the ability to transport refrigerated and frozen products during routine scheduled deliveries as far as 100 miles from its facilities. The operation also needs to meet storage needs at catering locations.

So they needed a simple, reliable and flexible solution to replace a 1990s pickup truck and bed-mounted refrigeration unit, but the added cost of insulating a van and upfitting it with a refrigeration unit was high.


Three years ago, Lil' Ponderosa Beef replaced its aging and unreliable truck and refrigeration equipment with a Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van and a Coldtainer front-opening container. The only modification made to the van to accommodate the Coldtainer was to install a weatherproof plug connection on the outside of the vehicle to power the unit when the vehicle is parked at the operation’s facility or during catering events.

Coldtainer says its portable containers are a versatile solution for the transportation of perishable goods that require precise temperature control and freeze protection. Available in front-opening or top-loading models in a range of capacities and with numerous cooling, freezing and heating options, Coldtainers can use battery, shore and solar-power sources on vehicles and at facilities to operate on AC or DC power.

Equipped with refrigeration units designed to withstand vibrations related to vehicle use, Coldtainer stand-alone containers are made from durable molded polyethylene and food-grade materials, are easy to clean and in compliance with health and safety standards, the company said.

All Coldtainer temperature-controlled models feature an integrated battery monitor and a user-friendly digital display to view temperature and status, and for precise temperature set point control. The portable cooling containers also record temperatures and have a mobile Bluetooth capability for downloading data to meet recordkeeping requirements.


The Coldtainer portable, standalone container was the right choice for Lil’ Ponderosa because of its cost, simplicity and flexibility, said Lil’ Ponderosa, which also uses the unit for catering services.

In addition to the upfit savings, the standard cargo van commands a higher resale or trade-in value than a used insulated vehicle with a refrigeration unit because it hasn’t been modified, Coldtainer said. The Coldtainer unit also can be transferred to another van or resold as a standalone asset if a larger vehicle and unit are needed.

Coldtainer installs with four floor attachments, and its slide-in design makes it easy to install or remove with a forklift by two people in 30 minutes or less.

Lil’ Ponderosa hasn’t had any downtime related to the Coldtainer, the company said, and the portable refrigerated container does not require maintenance.

“A standard van has a higher resale value than a used insulated vehicle and refrigeration unit, plus the Coldtainer can be moved to a new van easily,” Bob Boyce said. “We typically replace our vehicle after about six years and we expect the portable refrigerated container to have a service life of 20 years in our operation.

“If you want to meet your refrigerated and frozen transport needs for half or less the cost of the alternative, Coldtainer is the right solution.”

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