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My love letter to Dutch Bros.

This is no ordinary company. This story starts about 7 years ago on a golf course.   I was playing a round and was paired up with a guy named Jeff and his father.  The inevitable what-to-you-do conversation occurred on the 3rd hole where I learned I was playing with the owner of a new coffee stand in town.  I own a “Dutch Bros” he said.  “Here is a free drink card, check us out”.  That one moment, set into motion a chain of events that has allowed me to see how unique this company really is, and how truly amazing the people behind it are.

I really liked that first drink.  How do you not like a coffee drink called an “Annihilator”?  My next visit, I was actually meeting a client out early one morning (at a Moxie Java coffee shop) to go over an insurance proposal when I spot another Dutch Bros. across the street from my meeting.  Even though my meeting is in a coffee shop, my car instinctively turns into the drive through and I order my drink.

I am introduced to Andrew who greets me with a “hey dude” and smile.  He fires up my drink and we chat a little and he tells me that he is opening his own stand in the next few months.  I congratulate him, wish him luck and go on my way.  Right before I pull back onto the main road, I literally slap my forehead and make a u-turn.  I was still new at this sales stuff.  I run back and give him my card and tell him what I do and if there is anyway I can help when he gets started, to look me up.

About a month later, he and his wife Shayna are in my office and we are talking about how to properly insure their new business.  They are all of 22 years old and on the cusp of starting their journey.  I still didn’t know much about this company yet, but I had my first “Wow” moment when they invited me to their grand opening party the night before their stand opened.

This party I went to, pales in comparison to what they do now, but it was still a moment I remember.  I sensed this company was different.  I was only there for an hour but there had to be 50-60 people in the room.  It was loud, there was music, and the energy was HIGH.  They flew a crack squad out to help with the opening so that it goes smoothly.  They also had a bunch of people from their corporate office out to assist and celebrate.

They gathered everyone around a long table and, I am willing to be wrong here, but I believe it was the founder of the company, Travis, who gave a great speech.  He spoke of passion and culture and living your dreams and he meant every word.  Hell, I was pumped after he spoke.  Then they showed a video that shared Andrew and Shayna’s story and the room went nuts.  It wasn’t a meeting to prep for opening day, it was a celebration.  This is no ordinary company.

I left that night with feeling that I had witnessed something special.  A beginning.  Over the next few years, Andrew and Shayna were kind enough to introduce me to Brian and Libby Wight (Boise), to Danielle and Derrick Fleck (Ontario/Payette) and few years after that, to Adam and Amanda Hanby (Twin Falls).  I went back and got to know Jeff and his wife Meegan (Meridian).  Brian later introduced me to Amanda Annotti (Moscow) and Jeff and Brandi Bullers (Coeur D’alane).  I am so proud to say that I protect all of these families and their businesses.

What I have seen over the past 7 years or so has been so enlightening.  I am not even sure how to put it into words, but this is a blog so I have to try.  These companies, run by these passionate people LOVE what they do and CARE how it’s done.  There are now 23 Dutch Bros. in Idaho and they have a rabid fan base.  When they need to hire people, it’s like a frickin American Idol audition.  People line up to have the chance to work for them.  Everytime you visit a stand to get a drink, the employees engage with you, smile with you and you leave feeling happier.

I have had the opportunity to see behind the curtain a little bit.  I have gotten to know these people and seen their families and businesses grow.  There are big growing pains to running a business, especially ones that have insane growth like this.  My wife and I both started businesses from scratch, had a baby and bought our first house in the same year, so I have a little insight on how hard it is to accomplish such a feat.  I have never seen them complain or be negative.  They are progressive and take everything in stride, looking for solutions instead of blaming a circumstance.

The thing I have seen recently, is their willingness and ability to help their employees be better people. Not better employees, better human beings.  What you have to understand is, they employ hundreds of people, primarily aged 18-24.  These are vital developmental years in our life.  People are learning what it means to work hard, to work for a cause, to think of someone other than themselves, and to discover what you really want to do.  This is the time to install and download traits that will help define who you really are.  I worked with college age students professionally for 5 years and understand how important it is to be a be there for this age group. They teach communication, conflict management, leadership and management skills.

They understand that their employees aren’t going to be broista’s forever.  Here is a beautiful example on how they help their employees realize their potential.

Recently at a stand in Oregon, there was this: Click on the picture….

I am really thankful for being able to work with these people.  I am proud of everything that they have accomplished and look forward to watching them on their respective journeys.  Thank you Andrew, Shayna, Jeff, Meegan, Brian, Libby, Danielle, Derek,  Adam, Amanda, Jeff, Brandi and Amanda.  You are part of no ordinary company.

Podcast with Jeff and Meegan

Podcast with Brian Wight

Podcast with Andrew and Shayna Randall

Matt’s website

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One Comment

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  1. Ah, Matt!

    Great to read the whole story! I have a love of Dutch Bros, as well! People across the social media platforms on which I engage don’t get it unless they’ve been to Dutch Bros themselves. When I go pick up my mocha, I can’t help but put it on Periscope, Snapchat, Twitter, etc… It’s not just about the coffee – it’s about the experience.

    On occasion, when I can’t find a Dutch Bros (traveling, what have you) and I post about a different coffee shop (not mentioning any names, but it rhymes with barhucks) I get a flurry of reactions from friends & followers that have a theme of shock and disbelief that I wasn’t at a Dutch Bros. 🙂

    I can honestly say that I have never had a bad experience at a Dutch Bros – and I’ve been to a lot of them. The fact that the company is so involved in so much social good makes me love them even more!

    Thanks for sharing your story!!