Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sean Pierce, co-owner of Fogbuster Coffee Works, located in Greenfield, MA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We at Fogbuster® Coffee Works (formerly Pierce Brothers Coffee) are a full-service, gourmet coffee roastery, wholesaler, and distributor. We are certified organic, fair trade & kosher as well as rainforest and bird safe. We also exclusively air-roast all of our coffee. We believe this to be the superior choice in roasting techniques. Everyone of these choices and decisions in how and why we do business come from a place of considering what is best before thinking about what is more profitable.
Our customers range from individuals to businesses, plus many churches, schools, colleges, and universities. We are happy to supply places of business with world-class coffee simply, but we are also a full-service company. Meaning we will also supply, set up, and maintain, brewers and coffee makers of all types as well as cups, lids, signage, coolers, or really anything needed in the pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee. Being a gourmet company, we understand we are not and can not be the cheapest, arguable though we are the best.
We pride ourselves on the deep and long-lasting relationships we've built in the nearly 30 years we have been in business. In the same breath, we are just as elated to see an individual taste our coffee for the first time. At the end of the day, this is what the journey is truly about, improving lives. Whether it's the farming making a living wage, selling their beans at a fair price, maintaining and improving ancestral lands, employing organic and sustainable farming practices, or an individual grabbing that warm or cold mug, glass, or can of liquid, life force. We want this to be the best possible experience. Intention, awareness, commitment, and follow-through are how we get there.
Tell us about yourself
In the early '90s, a dear friend volunteered for the peace corp. This journey took him to South America, where he saw coffee fields that had gone feral farmers simply couldn't sell their beans for a high enough price to sustain themselves. This simply broke our friend's heart. On a positive note, he spoke with some economists and forward thinkers who proposed the benefits of fair trade practices, and our friend returned with many great ideas. My brother Darren and I were quickly swept up in the wave of enthusiasm and realized we wanted to be a part of the possible change. Somewhat ironically, our friend moved on, but Darren and I had the bug, and on April 28th of 1996, Pierce Brothers Coffee was born. We have been Fair Trade & Organic since the day we started. It took us about two years to discover air-roasting; we've never looked back since, as we truly believe, air-roasted coffee is superior. The passion to be better and do better for the world around us has never waned; it drives us daily.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The accomplishments are measured in the good we've seen grow around our company. The family farmers that we personally know are thriving through this partnership. The workers and their families who are and have been sustained through our business and its growth but perhaps most of all, the positive feedback that is relayed to us daily by our loyal customers or individuals discovering our coffees or other products, i.e., spice rubs, fire cider, chocolate covered espresso beans or even beers brewed with our coffee, for the first time. These wonderful moments sustain and drive us to keep going.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest part of business mirrors the hardest part of life, the unknown. We can't truly prepare for that which we don't know is coming, say like a pandemic, for instance. Change in its gentlest forms can be challenging. At its most extreme can lead to relationships being damaged. These moments can be tough because they can lead to hard decisions or even hard feelings. The best possible remedy is forward-thinking, compassion, empathy, and clear communication, but nothing is perfect; we must simply accept, overcome, and adapt.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do your research. Why are you getting started? What do you hope to accomplish? What are your competitors doing? Is it working?
- Exercise patience. Nothing (very few things) sustainable happen overnight; it takes hard work, dedication, and a lot of follow-throughs.
- Clearly understand your intentions for being in business. Why is it as important as how? Having a clearly defined motivation can aid one when times get hard, which they always do.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I'd just like to thank the communities at large that have supported our little family-owned business for the last nearly 30 years. It is our sincere pleasure to be a part of your journey. I truly hope our passions fuel yours! Cheers.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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