The year was 1985 and Jay was a frequent visitor to Blues Fest in Chicago’s Grant Park with his buddies. Why he had so much fun may have been due to the soft-sided, cylindrical cooler bag he leisurely walked in with. He filled the cooler with beverages and strolled through past security because they thought it was just another bag – little did they know.He used the same cooler for years: on boats, in golf carts and left it in the dugout while he was coaching his son’s baseball team. But one day, tragedy struck and the inner liner cold cracked.Desperate, he would fill the inside of the cooler with a garbage bag to keep it somewhat operational. He called the manufacturer for a replacement with no luck. The company no longer made the product. Where others may have given up, Jay refused to be discouraged and saw a unique opportunity.
Shortly thereafter, he was introduced to a mutual friend who owned a luggage company in Cicero, Ill., who created a nearly identical prototype, this time with a removable/replaceable liner. He solved his problem and went one step further – he made it with better material and added functional pockets.
Proud with the modernization of the unique shape, Jay called it his “Chillinder Cooler.” When he brought it to Grant Park, on boats and on golfing trips, people always stopped to ask him what it was, and more importantly, where could they get one. Soon, everyone wanted a Chillinder Cooler.
In December 2013, Jay founded the company Chillinder Coolers, LLC. When he showed his friends in Bloomington, the same place he founded Buffalouie’s, they gave him the idea to place logos on the bags and sure enough, on May 7, 2014, he secured a license with Indiana University to produce officially branded bags with the school’s colors and logo. Soon, other schools wanted a Chillinder. That’s when he signed Iowa and Michigan State. Within months, Jay obtained the licenses of more than 30 schools and continues to add new licenses every month.
ABOUT JAY LIESER
Jay is not your typical “fly-off-the-handle” entrepreneur. While he’s filled with unique ideas, he has literally built businesses based on his own needs. Seriously, what’s better than this?
What item could be available, at this exact time, to make life easier, more enjoyable? What product could give you a lift in your current situation? This is how Jay’s mind works.
It all started when the Buffalo, New York native moved to Indiana. In his hometown, Jay got his weekly fix of juicy and authentic chicken wings but now found them unavailable. He began by knocking on his neighbors’ doors to collect orders for wings early in the week and by Thursday and Friday, Jay was back on their doorstep with a bucket of hot wings from his family’s signature recipe. Later, while in college at Indiana University in Bloomington, Jay saw a huge opportunity and, in 1987, opened the doors to Buffalouie’s.
When former Indiana basketball Head Coach Bobby Knight frequented, as well as other basketball players, the wing joint became an Indiana tradition. The restaurant has recently received national recognition as one of the top 10 “great places to savor Buffalo wings” by USA Today.
Jay went on to become a General Contractor, and his company, 1st Metropolitan Builders, Inc., has led custom home building in the Chicagoland area over the past 18 years.
In his free time, Jay enjoys golfing with his sons and coaching their baseball teams, and relishes sneaking into festivals (or golf courses) with his favorite frosty beverages. And that’s how the idea of Chillinder was born.