“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”-Winston Churchill
What I found most imposing about the task I had set before myself that day in October 2010 was not the sheer volume of work, raising a business from scratch while raising a family and working two other jobs, but the width of the dang door.
This 1500-pound albatross, a Primo PRI-20 commercial grade coffee roaster, was just sitting in Dave’s shop. He hadn’t fired it up since 2006, when he and his wife/business partner had an actual fire in the flue system. Meeting with my friend Brian in his second office at the table by the window had become commonplace, and I had stared at the coffee roaster for years, quietly admiring it and yet was troubled by how much valuable retail space it was wasting for this coffee shop.
The day I asked Dave about it and how it worked, he must have been in a generous mood. Although he is always kind, you can sense that each answer he gives to a question is thoughtfully mulled over and balanced against his business acumen. He owns a typical local coffee shop, with lots of awesome beans on the display wall, cozy mismatched furniture placed with purpose, but not too much. A retail food and tchotchke area with their logo splashed across a sundry of items. They even complete the package with the shop vehicle, a ’69 VW bus. My first job, Bike Pedalers in Lincoln, Nebraska, had the same vehicle as the company symbol so I naturally found Dave to be very cool. I was about to find out just how cool he was.
“I would probably pay somebody to get it out of here.” The words were like the “Hallelujah Chorus” in my melon. I did my best to not look beside myself, but Dave read my poor poker face.
“Well, maybe not pay someone, but if you can get it out of here, its yours.” He stopped right there. No strings, no clauses or covenants. I had always wanted my own business. I have more than a few manila folders full of pie-in-the-sky business plans, with unrealistic profit margins and no capital goods, cash flow issues and bad marketing plans.
So here I was, staring at this door that I needed to fit the roaster through. The pallet jack was a little too wide to fit all the way under the roaster (one would think pallet slot widths would be standard). So we were going to have to jam it under there as best we could and then finagle this beast out of their front door. I’m sure its the proper width for the city’s building code, but I am thinking to myself, “If I rip the frame of this door up, break the glass, block the customers from entering this business for an hour, I am not going to keep Dave as a friend.” I was already in for $150 for the moving services, so a commercial door repair was not in my non-existent budget. Dave said he just had 7 people help lift it in. Great.
We get it to the door and the pallet jack has two metal knobs sticking out of the sides, so the process of inch-worming it out the door begins. We’ve begun to draw a crowd, including my friend Brian, who is paparazzi-like in his observations, amazed we are pulling this off. Finally clear of the door, the pallet jack re-inserted (sort of) its now a matter of rolling it up the “ramp” of one of those flat-bed trailers with the diamond-shaped meshing that doubles as the back gate most small landscapers use. The shape may work great for the guys on Goldrush who are capturing their fortune in the Alaskan wilderness, but in the Lowe’s Food parking lot, it is a royal pain. Finally in the trailer we retrieve the chaff separator, which is another 200 pound object that looks like a soup can shaped water tower, 7 feet tall, on three metal legs. It is the singularly most top-heavy thing I have ever encountered, and we’re getting ready to strap it down and ride it down the interstate.
As I stare out of my side view mirror for the next 20 minutes, praying out loud in my car, I can’t help but get excited. This is it! The beginning of my business, the freedom to call the shots and direct the company. As we pull into my buddy Jeff’s driveway, the other side of the coin comes to the fore. I’m storing my new roaster in Jeff’s garage because I don’t have a place to put it. I don’t have a business plan, a budget, or any working knowledge of this machine. I don’t even know if it actually works. But for $150, I can take a chance. I have no form to this plan, but things were brewing, and I have the courage to continue.