Brad Kelley, owner of BlueCaffe in Winston-Salem, and Greg Shouse, vice president of sales and marketing, believe their company stands to benefit from new laws banning water bottles in landfills.
That was a problem for Brad Kelley, president and owner of BlueCaffe water and coffee delivery service in Winston-Salem.
"People were becoming penny-wise, a pound foolish.
Some people who have catered lunches were looking to save $10," he
So far, Kelley
, the company he
founded nine years ago, seem to have successfully navigated one of the worst recessions in decades, finding customers to replace those who went out of business, and convincing others not to cut coffee and water out of their budgets.
"I think people are starting to realize that in order to continue to run the business, you have to make smart decisions.
You can't cut every $10 or $20," he
After months of working with clients, and as the economy improves, business is picking up, he
says, and BlueCaffe
is beginning to add to its staff again.
With new laws banning water bottles in landfills going into effect Oct. 1, Kelley
sees an opportunity to expand BlueCaffe's
customer base even more as companies seek alternatives to bottled water.
Kelley, a Winston-Salem native, started his career as an engineer, designing industrial ovens and other equipment, and later working as a consultant at Tyco Electronics.
grew tired of the constant business travel, and wanted something with more growth opportunity and control over decisions.
"At a large corporation, there's not always room for advancement, and the money you earn is not always proportional to what you put in," he
wanted a business-to-business company, and one that was relatively stable.
In 2000, he
bought about 50 coffee accounts from another vendor for more than $100,000, using every credit card and every bit of savings he
wife handled accounting and other office work, he
would make deliveries, install equipment, drop off supplies and service coffee machines.
Whatever had to be done, he
"I ordered, I took care of the truck.
If the brakes broke I rebuilt them.
Two to three days a week I did deliveries," he
Kelley says he had no real background in sales, but began calling on companies without coffee service and showing them that it was usually cheaper to buy supplies in bulk through him and brew large batches of coffee, instead of buying in small quantities at the grocery store.
And with larger companies, he
offered better, more reliable service, and when he
could, better prices.
Kelley's doggedness helped him gain large clients early on.
A few years after opening BlueCaffe
saw the potential for more business by adding filtered-water coolers.
And, according to Skip Olejarczyk, maintenance and safety manager for three Triad facilities for apparel maker Hanesbrands Inc.
was able to sell him on the service for his locations because of cost.
After years of steady growth, Kelley
says that the economic slowdown during the past year has taken a toll on BlueCaffe