Dealing with weirdos, West Palm man keeps drinks cold


West Palm Beach resident Anthony Altieri was a software consultant in a suit when he cashed in his stock options and started drinking high-tech beer koozies.

Recognizing a niche market for keeping drinks colder than the average portable foam insulation, Altieri designed a conical parka top that fits into can-sized drink holders designed by Thermos.

He patented the Chilling the Most product in July, but began selling it at outdoor events across the country in 2008.

“The last two and a half years have been a huge turmoil for the company. Don't get me wrong, it's been a gamble and there have been some tough times,” said Altieri, 46.

Altieri, a Boston native, came to Florida in 2004 for a job with the technology company Citrix. In 2007, he discovered Thermos brand can insulation. This can insulation reduces heat and cold conduction by eliminating air between the two walls of stainless steel.

He thought it would look perfect on a beer bottle and hired a designer to make the customized top a reality.

“At first, we didn't know if they would be popular, so we bought a few hundred,” Altieri said. “The first show was sold out.”

Altieri sells his $16.99 “Chilling the Most” beer koozies at boat shows, bike rallies and air shows, and travels around the country demonstrating the product in 90-second pitches.

Although the product isn't on shelves yet, Altieri's mentor Jerry Steinberg said Altieri has built the business to a point where it can scale.

Steinberg, the incoming president of SCORE's Palm Beach chapter, said he will work with Altieri on marketing strategy and transform the growing company into a more structured, organic business. SCORE is a national nonprofit organization supporting small businesses.

“His company has grown from something he wanted to be successful to a success,” Steinberg said of Altieri. “Before, we could bring a few cases of product to a trade show and sell them, but now we have a production schedule and a pricing model, to the point where we probably need a few additional employees. It’s coming.”

Altieri only has one other employee, a part-timer who is responsible for customizing products when companies want to put their logo on them. He pays Seagull Industries for the Disabled to package and ship the product. The Riviera Beach-based program takes developmentally challenged adults and trains them to enter the workforce independently.

Chilling the Most's next expansion will be in Texas. Altieri lives in a Whitney condominium in downtown West Palm Beach and will have to move out for five months while the toxic Chinese drywall is removed. He has had success selling his products in Austin and plans to take time away from his condo to market his products out west.

Altieri said he is working harder than ever, but the decision to leave his 9-to-5 job and grow his small business was the best decision he ever made.

“Leaving a cushy job with a six-figure salary to go out on your own is scary,” Altieri said. “But it's time for a change.”

For more information about Chilling the Most, visit www.chillingthemost.com.



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