We love hearing stories about how people are using the CoolBot. And we’ve heard some great ones — from RoxBox creating a very cool mobile bar to Andrew Mefferd building both a walk-in cooler and a skating pond.
Recently, we heard a story that instantly became one of our favorites because it isn’t just about the CoolBot providing efficient cold storage, but rather about how a walk-in cooler can bring people together and serve the local community.
Rande Joy, a lifelong resident of Corry, PA, is 61 years young, a self-proclaimed “simple guy,” and an avid deer hunter. “I’ve been hunting since I was 12. I haven’t missed an opening day yet,” he says. Clearly, he loves the sport, and he loves bringing meat home. But Joy’s favorite thing about hunting season rolling around is that he gets to spend quality time with his family and friends.
Every fall, Joy and his father, sons, brother, and cousins head up to deer camp. “Our camp isn’t big,” he says. “It’s deep in the woods — there’s no running water or electricity. We call it Chipmunk Hollow.” The name may sound laid-back, but the hunters are serious.
“It’s not the type of camp where we stay up and drink till the wee hours of the morning. We’re always in bed by 10, excited to rise before the sun and sneak out into the woods.“
For Joy, as for many hunters, the thrill doesn’t stop after a kill. Processing the meat is a tradition in and of itself. “When we get a deer, we enjoy the time after the kill, taking pictures and doing the processing and wrapping,” he says.
That’s where the problem arose — the hunters didn’t have a surefire way to keep the meat cool during warm autumn days. For a long time, their workaround was to layer the meat in a cooler full of ice. It worked okay, Joy said, but anyone familiar with meat processing knows that, even if you use plastic garbage bags between the layers, the meat still gets wet. You can lose a lot of meat that way, and, Joy points out, the gamey quality that many people don’t like is a result of this type of handling.
So, Joy started looking for other ideas. He’s a true DIY-er, so an out-of-the-box solution wasn’t an option (plus, it was too expensive). That’s when he found the CoolBot.
Joy wanted something mobile, so he scored an old snowmobile trailer for about $300. He also scooped up some rigid foam insulation leftover from a friend’s building project. Then, he was given a used Frigidaire A/C unit and went to work. He built a 4’x8’ box, which is enough room for 12 deer. He also hung hooks from 2”x4” racks across the ceiling, lit the trailer inside and out, and installed aluminum-faced polyboard walls and several shelves.
The result was a mobile walk-in cooler designed for meat processing. Joy named it the “Frigideer.”
If you’ve read our customer stories in the past, you know that there’s frequently a skeptic — someone who doesn’t believe that a CoolBot and an air conditioner can possibly provide the level of cooling power we advertise. In this case, that skeptic was Joy’s cousin who works in the HVAC industry.
As a regular reader, you’ll also know that we have an excellent track record of winning over skeptics. So, how did the cousin react when he saw the CoolBot in action? “He was surprised when he came during a warm fall,” Joy says. “He couldn’t believe how cool the walk-in was and how well it maintained temperature.”
The Frigideer has been a fixture in his driveway during deer season for several years now, and Joy notes that the benefit of the cooler goes beyond keeping meat cool. It lets their crew schedule processing when it is convenient so they can take their time processing the deer and cracking jokes across the cutting boards. This camaraderie has become Joy and his family’s favorite thing about having their own cooler. “The Frigideer extends the season of us being together and enjoying each other’s company,” Joy says.
Joy and his family aren’t the only ones who enjoy the walk-in cooler. With fewer than 7,000 residents, Corry is a small community, and word about the Frigideer quickly spread around town. The night before we interviewed Joy for this article, a friend and his daughter, a 14-year-old hunter, stopped by with a deer she’d killed so she could participate in the processing.
When he isn’t using the cooler for deer, Joy has lent it out for weddings, graduation parties, and other events requiring cold storage. The Frigideer even spent over a month serving as an emergency cooler for a florist, who’s refrigeration system had gone out. The Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs also use the cooler for their annual breakfast, held out at the airport. This year, the Health Department inspected the cooler to make sure it was maintaining the required temperature for food storage. It passed with flying colors.
What started out as a project to keep meat cool and fresh has turned into much more. The Frigideer prolongs the camaraderie of hunting season that Joy loves so much and also serves as an indispensable community resource for the people of Corry. You can see why we were so excited to share this story with you.
In the new year, Joy will be launching Frigideer.com, a website that will be a valuable resource for his fellow hunters and DIY enthusiasts. It will provide information about his walk-in cooler build and also host a space where people can connect and share knowledge about hunting, meat processing, and more. We’ll update this article as soon as the website is live.
In the meantime, Joy has some advice to any hunters still on the fence about building their own walk-in cooler. “Take the step and do this,” he says.
“Enjoy a longer season with everybody.”