Dilworth Coffee Anniversary Event

STG513-ID-DWCstickerOur sister company, Dilworth Coffee is celebrating their 25th anniversary of providing craft-roasted coffee to the Charlotte area. To celebrate this significant achievement with their customers, the four licensed stores hosted a Free Coffee Day on November 18th 2014 featuring their 25th anniversary coffee, Organic Willow Oak Estate Blend. Dilworth Coffee’s 25th anniversary coffee was roasted exclusively for the store by Stockton Graham & Co.’s team. Don Keen, founder of Dilworth Coffee, made appearances at three of the stores on the day of the event.

For the Dilworth Coffee event, a press release was sent to local media outlets, the event was promoted on social media and added to community calendars, posters were hung at the stores and “bounce-back” coupons were given out to guests. Customers across Charlotte were delightfully greeted with free cups of Dilworth Coffee on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Dilworth Coffeehouse. Don Keen, the founder of Charlotte’s original and enduring coffee brand along with Thom Swain from Stockton Graham & Co. visited area locations to meet and greet customers. Some life-long Charlotteans were sure to stop and thank Don for his contributions to the coffee community. One visitor recounted her childhood memories of the intoxicating smell of roasting coffee that floated in the air in the Dilworth neighborhood. The impact of Dilworth Coffee’s commitment to excellence and customer service is as evident today as it was when the Keens first opened their café in the Dilworth neighborhood twenty-five years ago.

Reviews of the new anniversary blend were glowing; Organic Willow Oak Estate blend harkens back to the origins of Dilworth Coffee at the former home of the Keens who once lived on Willow Oak Dr. The alluring aroma of this coffee, which blends Latin and Indonesian coffees and is matched by its seamless balance of mild chocolate and spicy notes drew customers in, and will surely have them coming back for more. For a limited time, area Dilworth Coffeehouse locations are still offering a free commemorative mug with the purchase of a pound of Organic Willow Oak Estate.

With the coffee market fluctuating within the recent months, many of our customers are cutting budgets, with marketing and events being the one of the first things to go. This can be detrimental to a business that needs to be constantly promoting itself to new customers while giving regular customers a reason to come back more often. By hosting or sponsoring an event, a coffee shop strengthens relationships with their customer base and the community. It is also a great way to garner media exposure by contacting local outlets and adding the event to online community calendars.

Events are great ways to promote your stores and bring customers back again and again. Read more about how to host an event for your business:

  1. Contact Local Media Outlets: Draft a press release to send to local media outlets. Make sure to cover WHO, WHAT, WHEN and WHY in your release. This gives any reporter you reach out to all the information they will need to cover your event.
  1. Social Media: Promote your event online with social media. Tweet or Facebook in the weeks leading up to the event and post reminders on the day of the event.
  1. Flyers/Posters: Put up flyers or posters in your store to promote your event to current customers. Make sure it is clear on the poster WHERE and WHEN your event is taking place.
  1. Coupons: Create coupons designed to bring any one who attends the event back to your business. This usually includes a coupon that expires within a month after the event.

For more tips about how to create an event to build your business, call us at 800 835 5943 or browse our blog archives.

Celebrating October Anniversaries!

Helen_Barnes_BioAlthough Helen is only celebrating her first anniversary with Stockton Graham & Co., she is a veteran of the coffee industry with eight years of experience as a barista and store manager. Our resident mixologist, her passion is creating unique beverages that thrill and delight the customer. Helen’s philosophy is that every cup of coffee should be an experience and she is always happy to do drink preparation demonstrations with our customers, or recommend a favorite recipe. Part of the fun of being in the coffee industry for Helen is finding someone’s favorite drink, whether that be a specific single origin coffee or a complex frappe with all the dressings. Her mission is to share her experience and enthusiasm for coffee and specialty beverages with our customers while equipping them with the tools to really “wow” their own customers.

At Stockton Graham & Co., we have many different personalities who are dedicated to helping our customers understand the coffees and the business of coffee.  Helen has the same desire to help our customers and other team members not only learn about coffees and specialty drinks, but also adds the extra touch to enable our customers and their baristas to give their store and drinks the extra distinctive personalized edge. Her effervescent, glittery personality and smile comes through to help us all shine brighter and better (and have more fun!!).  We are fortunate to have Helen and her energy to add more sparkle to our cast of coffee personalities at Stockton Graham & Co.” – Jeff Vojta, President and Co-Founder, Stockton Graham & Co. 

“Helen’s passion for our customers and their success is infectious and she is my go-to-girl for the latest trends in the coffee industry. Her creativity and imagination seems to know no bounds and that really shows in the drink combinations she comes up with. I always look forward to sampling her latest concoction. If you get the chance to try her cinnamon coffee, I suggest you take it.” – Alisa Dixon, Marketing Associate at Stockton Graham & Co. 

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Celebrating Anniversaries in September!

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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

Celebrating July Anniversaries!

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In honor of Stockton Graham & Co.’s 20th year in business, we have been celebrating important dates for the company. This July, we are celebrating Andy Midgette’s 1 Year Anniversary at Stockton Graham & Co.!

A newcomer to the coffee world, Andy is a coffee lover and interested in all aspects of the business. He has a lot of experience working in customer service and loves interacting with people. Andy’s favorite coffee is the Papua New Guinea because of it’s fruity, fresh flavor. A UNC-Wilmington graduate, outside of work Andy enjoys cycling.

“While Andy has only been with Stockton Graham & Co. for 1 year, he has become an integral part of our team. His creativity and dedication to our customers is evident in his work and we have seen him grow and learn a lot about our company, our customers and our customer’s businesses during his time here. His passion for ensuring our customers are taken care of is what makes Andy such a valuable asset to our customers and our company.” – Jeff Vojta, CEO Stockton Graham & Co.

“Andy is always eager to learn something new about coffee and share this experience with our customers who find it enlightening and inspiring.  Though he is relatively new to the coffee industry, we appreciate his fresh perspective.” Thom Swain, Director of Southeast Business Development

Andy has completed our Coffee College as well.

 From the whole team at Stockton Graham & Co, thank you for your hard work!

Stockton Graham & Co. June Anniversaries!

Kirk HaggardIn honor of Stockton Graham & Co.’s 20th year in business, we have been celebrating important dates for the company. This June, we are celebrating Kirk Haggard’s 6th Anniversary at Stockton Graham & Co.!

Kirk Haggard is the Accounting and Purchasing Assistant at Stockton Graham & Co., which means he does a little bit of everything. He makes sure our vendors’ products are coming in, and he keeps up with product inventory in the warehouse. Since he came to Stockton Graham & Co. in 2008, Kirk has learned the ins and outs of the warehouse, and if you are looking to locate any product, he’s the man to see. When he came to Stockton Graham & Co. he had managerial experience, and that experience is apparent in his ability to handle many tasks at once.

“It is hard to believe that Kirk has been here for 6 years.  We have seen him grow and learn a lot about our company, products and customers during his time here.  He is always eager to take on new projects or problems and works hard until he finds a solution.  His dedication to ensuring our customers have what they need when they need it and his tremendous desire to help our customers and fellow associates is what makes Kirk a valuable asset to me and Stockton Graham & Co.” – Jeff Vojta

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Kirk since he joined Stockton Graham six years ago.  He has become my go-to “Product Guru” for those times when I need a quick answer for how many drinks I can make from a case of Dr. Smoothie or how many ounces a Torani syrup pump will dose.  He is always willing to lend a hand whether it’s invoicing, shipping orders, or assisting customers.  Kirk understands that Stockton Graham & Co.’s success is defined by our customers’ success and this shows through in his actions each day.”
– Steven May

Kirk has been Stockton Graham & Co. Barista Certified and has a certificate from Coffee College, as well. Kirk is the orchestrator for taste testing and taste comparison of our specialty beverage products. When a new product comes in, he is making sure that the staff is as informed on it as possible.

 Thank you for your hard work!

The Stockton Graham & Co. Story: 20 Years and Counting

The year was 1994… back then, cell phones were bigger, gas was cheaper, and Classic Coffees had just opened its doors for business. The quaint little shop off of Six Forks Road in Raleigh, NC was founded by two friends looking to own their own business. Little did they know, twenty years later the small business would still be an adventure never anticipated.

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It all started with a bag of beans. While working as an accountant, Jeff Vojta, co-founder and CEO of Stockton Graham & Co., received a bag of gourmet coffee as a gift. After sipping a cup of the gourmet brew, Jeff was astonished to find that the coffee actually tasted good, better than he ever thought coffee could taste! So when he and a friend started talk of going into business together, they decided to go into the business of coffee. The pair chose to open their own coffee shop, not only because of the profitability of coffee, but because coffee is something that people are passionate about. They felt that coffee brings people together, not only in cafés, but as a globally traded commodity. Jeff has said, “Coffee is a unifying force, bringing people of all cultures and backgrounds together to do business and create something special.”

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In May 1994, Classic Coffees was a 744 sq. ft. store that featured local artists’ work, gourmet desserts, and of course, specialty coffee. The dream was to become a national retail store. After asking customers, friends and family what they liked and disliked about coffee, the business partners realized the market demanded craft-roasted, specialty offerings. In 1996, the founders opted to expand the original store to nearly 2,000 sq. ft. to include a 12 kilo Petroncini roaster. Jeff roasted the first batch and learned by trial-and-error what worked and what didn’t. He even remembers setting the cooling tray on fire! They eventually got the hang of roasting after going to lots of trade shows, trading knowledge with other roasters and experimenting in their shop.

During the next several years, the company expanded into four retail locations operating in Raleigh and landed wholesale accounts throughout North Carolina and Virginia. They began selling their coffee to other coffeehouses, gourmet specialty stores, fine dining and other establishments wanting to serve craft-roasted coffee. Due to the high demand of wholesale coffee, Classic Coffees Roasting Company was created as a wholesale roaster and distributor.

While running their growing business, the partners had to find the right products to satisfy their café customers’ demands. The specialty beverage industry was growing, and customers wanted unique, tasty drinks. Jeff remembers, “This was back before Starbucks had frappes. It was summer time, and we were wondering where all our customers had gone.” They realized they needed cool and refreshing beverages to drive traffic during the warmer months, so they started offering blended beverages and iced drinks. As they diversified the products they offered, they ran into a new challenge: tracking down the right product mix. Twenty years ago, securing product included a lot of time on the phone with multiple vendors and a lot of hassle. The entrepreneurs had to jump through hoop after hoop to make sure they had the quality product they wanted for their business. They started buying products in bulk and would sell what they didn’t use to other stores in the area that wanted the same high quality products.SGC

Thus, the wholesale business was born. By mid 1999, the four “Classic Coffees” retail locations were sold to focus shifted to the the growing wholesale coffee and specialty beverage product business. In 2001, the name of the company was changed to Stockton Graham & Co and the company settled in at the 4320 Delta Lake Drive address in Raleigh.

Today, the company owns the entire building and the roaster is a bit bigger. They upgraded to include 30 and 60 kilo Ambex roasters to provide artisan roasted coffees to customers across the United States. Stockton Graham & Co. has also assembled a team with over 100 years combined experience in the coffee industry that offers business advice in addition to providing high-quality coffee and beverage products.

photo 33While the company has grown in size and capabilities, the core values and vision remain focused on offering customers the highest quality specialty coffees, knowledge and tools. This enables our customers to offer superior hand-crafted espresso and specialty, made-to-order drinks. Stockton Graham & Co. prides itself on blending the art of coffee roasting and drink preparation with the business of coffee including: consultation, equipment, advice and specialty products to help build superior and successful coffee businesses.

Jeff’s “Keys to Success” After Twenty Years in the Business of Coffee:

  • Listen to your customer.
  • Surround yourself with a good team.
  • Treat your staff and customers fairly, and work with people with the same goal.
  • Stick to your values and quality of product.
  • Business is about people. Keep them at the heart of your decisions.

Twenty Years Tells Us: Offer Bulk & Retail Coffee

SGC-historyYou have probably heard us talk about the profitability of a bulk & retail coffee program before, and we know from experience that it is a great idea! Twenty years ago this May, our CEO Jeff Vojta and his business partner started a little coffee shop in Raleigh, NC, called Classic Coffees which would later become Stockton Graham & Co. Back in 1994, there wasn’t much to go on in terms of how to run a coffee shop. Starbucks wasn’t yet a household name, and the specialty coffee industry was still in its infancy. Our founders had to experiment with what worked, what failed and what could be improved upon. One of the best revenue streams turned out to be Classic Coffee’s bulk and retail coffee offerings. They started small with only 5 or 6 offerings in their program, and within 2 years they had over 100 different coffees available.

SGC_RetailCoffeeInfographicChart_2014The bulk and retail coffee program in the original store is one of the key factors Jeff attributes to the store’s success. Jeff has said, “Shops that properly implement a robust bulk coffee program can expect a 40-50% increase in gross coffee and coffee beverage sales.” One of the ways that a bulk coffee program can help your store do this is by increasing customer loyalty. You see your best customers 3-5 times a week, but they drink coffee everyday. Is it your coffee? If they aren’t using beans bought from your store, they are buying them from somewhere else. Instead of losing the business to some other store or supermarket, offer customers the same great coffee you serve as a retail option! Selling take-home coffee adds to incremental sales, helps you rotate your stock more quickly, and keeps you relevant with your customers on a daily basis. They are more than likely to share it with friends and family and come back to you with future business! What a great way to market to new potential customers!

Thinking about starting your own bulk and retail coffee program? Here is what Jeff did at Classic Coffees to increase both sales and customer loyalty:SGC-Bulk-Coffee

 

What Jeff did:

  • Made the beans accessible to customers to see, smell and taste
  • Educated staff and customers about the coffees
  • He had a separate help line for those stopping in just to buy beans
  • Had over 100 selections of coffee
  • Offered shipping and gift baskets

For more information about bulk and retail coffee programs, give your Customer Care Associate a call at 800.835.5943.

Want to private label your retail coffees? Read more about our private label program here.

Need point-of-sale materials to support your retail or bulk team program? Read how we can help here.