Our 9th macro goal is to “Share Our Story.” As originally written, it was to “Tell Our Story,” but swapping verbs seemed appropriate since sharing indicates some sort of reception. And a good story is only good if someone hears it, reads it, understands it. For me, part of sharing the Summit story means wide open transparency. I want to broadcast our Summit story with everyone who works for us, everyone who buys a cup of coffee, everyone from Davidson to Asheville to anyone else who cares already or is going to care at some point.
Two weeks ago, I shared our 5-year “plan” — as much planning as I actually do — with Summit’s six-person advisory team. When I returned from the semiannual meeting, I shared it with our entire staff. If we want folks to be engaged, to live out our mission and value and goals, it is imperative that we also provide a vision for what the heck these goals are for. Published as “2024 Vision,” I celebrated an ambitious yet attainable 60-month roadmap, and in the interest of continued transparency, I’m sharing it here as well. There’s a peek behind the curtain, and then there’s this.
(I also want to be available for two-way conversation. If you ever have anything to share, any questions to ask, please email me directly — [email protected] — and I promise to read it. My oldest brother, Dan, is the Chairman and CEO of Deloitte Consulting and reads and responds to each one of his emails. If he can do it, so can I!)
Enough preface, here’s the real story:
The lighthouse for our next five years at Summit Coffee, from 2019 to 2024, can be summarized by the confluence of two missions: that of our company, and my more personal statement for why I own and operate Summit, and intend to for a long time.
Summit’s Mission: To approach coffee, community and collaboration with remarkable hospitality and a commitment to excellence.
Brian’s Purpose: To make people’s lives better.
The vision for our next five years may be more abstract than concrete, but all of our decisions, which will remain growth-oriented, can be filtered through these two missions. Our outlook manifests itself in four distinct categories: culture, employment, wholesale, and retail.
Summit’s culture will continue to follow our mission statement, plus our Macro Goals:
- To approach each aspect of our business with a commitment to excellence.
- To be positive members of our communities.
- To be a fair and good employer.
- To provide our customers with remarkable, uplifting experiences
- To collaborate within coffee and other industries.
- To stay curious and humble.
- To be sustainable, financially and environmentally.
- To have fun.
- To share our story.
While there’s no expectation that all aspects of our business will be successful at all nine goals simultaneously, it is our objective to keep these in mind and aim toward achieving these as often and thoroughly as possible.
As Jeff Bezos says, “Culture is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Our culture needs to be pervasive — from how we present ourselves visually, to how we manage relationships at every level, to how we approach the customer experience, and to how we deliver our products. It can’t be summed up in a single word, but rather in a cohesive feeling surrounding the brand at every level.
The culture will be led by our Advisory Team, but will permeate and be represented by every member of the Summit staff.
Our aim is to be an innovative, people-first company, and our main priority will be the management and development of Summit employees. Summit employees should expect a work environment that is challenging, safe, enjoyable, and rich with opportunities for development.
In addition to the continuation of our IRA, green fund and profit sharing programs, Summit’s aim is to offer health benefits to full-time employees before 2024. The totality of this package will make Summit a leader among peer companies, both in our region and in the service industry. Hitting this checkpoint requires growth, but when we do grow, our priority is to invest in our staff.
Our preference will remain to promote from within, understanding that our culture is paramount and existing Summit employees can represent that in new jobs better than those from outside the organization. In order to meet those needs, Summit will continue to offer education of both hard-skills (coffee specifically) and hard skills. The Summit School of Innovation will both continue and evolve, preparing the staff of today for the Summit of tomorrow.
In terms of growth, wholesale will remain our priority. All business opportunities that we pursue must enhance our ability to distribute roasted coffee.
Our wholesale focus will be multi-dimensional, continuing our focus on cafés and restaurants, while exploring new, innovative avenues for growth. That will include, but not be limited to: high-quality multistore businesses; private-label relationships; grocery; collaborations with non-coffee partners; and e-commerce.
We will expand our commitment to relationship sourcing. By 2024, at least 75% of the coffee we import and roast will be through existing relationships. With each of those relationships, we will maintain contact (either in-person or otherwise), to enhance transparency and share the story.
By 2024, Summit will have expanded from a local/regional brand into one that has a significant presence outside of the Southeast. The aim is to be recognized as a national coffee brand, and this five-year focus is a logical benchmark on the path to this. As part of this, we’ll open a new state-of-the-art roastery with a café and training lab/education center by 2024.
To reiterate, any decisions we make regarding our growth at Summit will need to have wholesale top of mind. We won’t open any cafe, or partake in any significant collaboration, if it does not enhance our wholesale opportunities. We will not distract ourselves from continued growth on the wholesale front.
That being said, we do believe there are opportunities in the retail space to push forward our brand awareness, and to the extent where the opportunity cost is worth it, we will consider opening new enterprises. This applies to both our current retail operations, and all future opportunities. We also are planning to explore digital operations more thoughtfully, which may manifest itself in digital ordering and, someday, a Summit app.
We’ll push Basecamp forward with a particular focus on sharpening the customer experience while being more careful about our net income. As our flagship store, Basecamp needs to continue to find balance between existing customers/efficiency, while also improving overall coffee quality and presentation. We’ll continue to hone in on what we do best, in addition to our coffee program — events, beer/wine, baked goods. If possible, Brian will continue to pursue ownership of the building.
Asheville will continue to expand through organic customer growth, and also targeted marketing. We aim for Asheville to be recognized not only as the best coffee shop in that city, but in the entire state of North Carolina. We’ll put a particular focus on being the “go-to cafe” for visitors to the city. We’ll push education and public events in the cafe space, utilizing the upstairs as it was designed. Brand expansion in Asheville could include more retail spaces in the Western NC area.
The Outpost will continue to serve as a hub for Davidson College students so long as we establish a profitable, easy-to-operate business model. We’re aiming to make this as student-focused from a staffing standpoint as possible. We’ll use the kitchen to retain and expand baking operations, with a possible push into wholesale. The Outpost will be an incubator for Summit ideas, highlighted this fall with the introduction of mobile ordering.
Charlotte is a market we’ll continue to explore for a new retail location, with a strong preference for collaborations. There’s no set timeline for retail expansion, though we’re constantly listening to opportunities to make decisions that are right by Summit and the staff.
No matter what we do, our commitment to making sound decisions with a focus on the long-term health of our business and its employees is imperative. I can’t wait to take risks, mess up, learn, and take more (better?) risks. Let’s have some fun.