This September we are celebrating Thom Swain’s 16th anniversary with Stockton Graham & Co. As Director of Business Development for the Southeast, Thom has helped many of our customers plan and open their specialty coffee programs. His career in coffee began in 1998 when Stockton Graham & Co. had several retail locations called Classic Coffees. Thom worked behind the bar and behind the scenes in the roaster in those early days. After being exposed to the many aspects of the specialty coffee industry and quickly advancing within the company, Thom’s role morphed into our in-house retail operations specialist. Thom’s countless contributions to Stockton Graham & Co.’s success have been critical to our growth as a company.
Thom was just out of school when he began helping out at Stockton Graham & Co. by running deliveries and working in the café. He advanced into roasting, technical service and eventually began training and consulting. Thom was essential to our success in the early years, doing anything it took to keep our roasting plant and our customers in operation. In fact, he was so skilled at managing and growing operations that one of our larger multi-unit customers hired him to support their corporate and franchised stores. While Thom was working for them, we kept in touch, and when conditions were right we were able to get him back. With his experience in supporting large multi-unit chains, Thom has been able to accelerate not only our growth at Stockton Graham & Co., but our customers’ as well.
In addition to his deep knowledge of coffee and retail operations, Thom realizes the importance of creating a customer experience and providing quality service. Many of his insights have been ingrained into the core values of Stockton Graham & Co. and have helped us grow to where we are today. Thom collaborated with Brandon Riggs, our Roastmaster, to create our first Coffee College modules.
There have been many changes and developments in the coffee industry over the past 16 years, and Thom has helped us continually focus on providing the best service and product for our customers. When asked for his best piece of business advice, Thom said, “Know, live, breathe and love your business. Without a passion for what you do, or what you create, you have nothing to keep you going.” Thom predicts great things are still to come for Stockton Graham & Co. and coffee.
Over the past 16 years of his career, Thom has made strong business relationships great friendships and here are a few words from those who have worked with him:
“Thom has been a tremendous help to Manna Church World Cafe! He’s walked us through setting up a business, equipment, training and has a wealth of knowledge about the industry that he continues impart to us. He’s quick to answer questions that we run into on a regular basis. We could not have done this without his help.Thank you Thom for all your help!!!” – Rachel Tate, Manna Church World Cafe
“Thom helped me to realize the importance of customer experience and service in both our retail stores and for our customers. Coming from a finance background, I could often get lost in the numbers and details of the transactions and lose sight of the fact that our business revolves around people and the quality of their coffee and experience when in a coffee shop. Thom has been a personal friend who has not only helped me stay motivated during the tough times of running a business, but also our other associates and customers as well. He has always been willing to go over and above to help out others which always been impressive to me.
Thom, thank you for all that you have done for me, Stockton Graham & Co. and our customers.” – Jeff Vojta, President, Stockton Graham & Co.
“Thom is such a creative force to work with! With a breadth of experience in the industry, he is a wonderful resource for information that translates into great ideas, which really adds value to the customer experience. He has also generated some wonderful brainstorms for the marketing of Stockton Graham & Co. that we’ve been able to run with and implement with success.” – Wendy Coulter, President, Hummingbird Creative Group